Health Scares in the News Part 8

While many health scares are manufactured in the fevered minds of the media and the general public, others are all too real. Iatrogenic and nosocomial infections are a prime example. These two types of hospital acquired infections (HAIs) are actually dramatically under-reported. Iatrogenic infections are caused by medical error. Nosocomial infections often occur just by virtue of the germ laden hospital environment and patients’ already compromised immune systems. MSN has just written up a chilling overview regarding why some of these infections occur. Dirty instruments are a leading culprit.

How do supposedly sterile instruments carry around a load of deadly bacteria? This can happen through any number of errors or malfunctions. A breakdown anywhere along the line can allow contamination to flourish:

  1. The equipment or instruments being sterilized are designed in such a way that not all surfaces can be thoroughly cleaned
  2. The autoclave is not run on the correct cycle for the instruments being cleaned
  3. The instruments are not properly bagged, preventing proper sterilization or allowing subsequent contamination
  4. The autoclave is not functioning up to specifications (this is supposed to be detected through regular inspections and testing)
  5. Instruments that shouldn’t be reused are sometimes cleaned and reused anyway
  6. Steps get skipped or done incorrectly in the rush to make instruments available for surgery

At this time, there’s not much you can do to avoid this health risk since the truth about failures in sterilization procedures and protocols only make the news in particularly egregious cases. However, it doesn’t hurt to talk to your surgical staff about the hospital’s sterilization procedures. That way they know you’ll be keeping an eye out for HAI.

Tags: Health and Beauty