Surgery patients mistakenly exposed to infection risk

The Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) is apologizing for exposing several surgery patients to an increased risk of infection due to improperly sterilized surgical instruments.

The SHA issued a news release on Friday, February 8 saying that on Monday, February 4, SHA officials learned that during surgery three patients were exposed to instruments that did not go through the final step of steam sterilization. The involved surgeries at Saskatoon City Hospital happened on Friday, February 1 and Monday, February 4, 2019.

“These instruments were sterilized through the washer-disinfector cycle, which destroys blood-borne pathogens, including HIV, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C,” stated the SHA officials. “However, they did not go through the final step of steam sterilization.

“While we know that only three patients were exposed to these instruments, we are unable to specifically identify these patients, so we have notified all 13 individuals who may have been exposed during surgery within this short time period.”

The SHA said it’s important to note that following surgery, there is always an increased risk of infection affecting the skin around the surgical cut. Although the risk for post-surgical infection has increased for the three patients involved, the risk of infection is still low.

“The Saskatchewan Health Authority is deeply sorry for any concern or stress this incident may cause our patients and their families,” said the SHA. “There will be an internal quality review to look into this incident to understand what has occurred, with a goal to prevent a similar incident in the future.”