Windsor

Elective surgeries at Windsor Regional Hospital cancelled

Windsor Regional Hospital is trying to determine what exactly is contaminating its surgical equipment after yellowish-brown stains started appearing on the cloths used to wrap sterilized equipment.

Expert from Georgia called in to get to the bottom of yellowish-brown stains

Staff and experts are trying to determine what's causing sterilized cloths to turn brown at Windsor Regional Hospital. (Meg Roberts/CBC)

Windsor Regional Hospital is trying to determine what exactly is contaminating its surgical equipment after yellowish-brown stains started appearing on the cloths used to wrap sterilized equipment.

David Musyj, the president and CEO of the hospital, called the stains "scorching" of the cloth.

All elective surgeries at the Ouellette campus downtown are cancelled while staff and experts investigate.

Between 40 and 50 surgeries are being cancelled every day because of the problem. About 20 surgeries have been moved from the downtown campus to the Met Campus on Lens Avenue.

"We decided to err on the side of patient safety," Musyj told reporters Tuesday. "Until we know what we're dealing with, we're stopping elective surgeries, period, at this particular campus while maintaining what's happening at Met Campus until we know exactly what [the problem] is."  

No timeline for resolution

Musyj said no patients have been at risk and it doesn't appear there has been any rise in the infection rate in patients after surgery over the past six months.

For now, there are no timelines on when the problem — or a solution — will be identified. The hospital is calling patients directly the night before their scheduled surgery to notify them of the change.

"It's frustrating for patients and their families, clearly," Musyj said. "However, everyone's erring on the side of patient safety. The last thing we want to do is move ahead with a surgical procedure and risk that."

Dirty surgical instruments are washed, decontaminated with chemicals and then dried on trays before being wrapped then steamed.

Staff first discovered stains on the white cloth used to wrap sterilized surgical equipment earlier this month.

Expert called in 

It's unclear why there is an issue with the sterilization. Though the stains are a brown colour, tests show that the substance isn't iron or rust.

Musyj claims the problem is not the result of human error but rather "something external."

An expert from Georgia has been called in to help determine the cause but that could take any amount of time, Musyj said.

There was another incident earlier this year when Windsor Regional cancelled surgeries at Ouellette Campus due to sterilization problems.

Musyj said it isn't clear whether the two situations are linked. 

"Solving this problem as quickly as we can, that's not the goal," Musyj said. "The goal is to solve the problem."