Denver Hospital Warns Surgical Patients of Infection Risk

Some patients who underwent surgery at Denver’s Porter Adventist Hospital have been warned they may be at risk for contracting HIV, hepatitis B, or hepatitis C due to an infection control breach involving surgical instruments. The breach may have affected patients who underwent orthopedic or spine surgery between July 21, 2016 and February 20, 2018, according to a statement released by Larry Wolk, executive director and chief medical officer of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

“The process for cleaning surgical instruments following orthopedic and spine surgeries was found to be inadequate, which may have compromised the sterilization of the instruments,” according to Wolk. “The department is not aware of any patient infections related to the breach at this time. This risk of surgical site infection related to this event (above the usual risk related to surgery) is unknown. The risk of getting HIV, hepatitis B, or hepatitis C because of this issue is considered very low.”

The state health department received notification of the breach on February 21 and conducted an on-site survey of Porter Adventist’s infection control practices the next day. A disease control investigation is ongoing, and Wolk’s statement said the department last visited the hospital on March 28 to confirm that current infection control practices meet standards.

The statement said Porter Adventist stopped using and reprocessed all surgical equipment in question on February 20. There appears to be no increased risk to current surgical patients at Porter Adventist because of the breach, Wolk said.

The hospital mailed letters on April 4 to patients who might have been put at risk.

The hospital released a statement related to the breach, according to the Denver Post. “Patient safety is our top priority at Porter Adventist Hospital,” stated hospital spokeswoman Chrissy Nicholson. “We are proactively working with the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment about a gap in the pre-cleaning process, prior to sterilization. While we take any gap in our pre-cleaning process seriously, at this time we are not aware of it having caused any infections.”