Hundreds of patients warned after surgery equipment cleaning malfunction at Lions Gate Hospital

Click to play video: 'Surgical instrument cleaning breach at Lions Gate Hospital'
Surgical instrument cleaning breach at Lions Gate Hospital
More than 200 patients of Lions Gate Hospital have received an alarming notice about a malfunction in the equipment used to clean surgical instruments. Catherine Urquhart reports – Nov 23, 2016

Hundreds of patients who had surgeries at the Lions Gate Hospital in North Vancouver earlier this month are being warned after a malfunction in the cleaning equipment that processes instruments used in the hospital’s operating rooms.

Gavin Wilson with Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) says four of the five pumps that deliver detergent into the mechanical washers that clean operating room instruments were not working properly because of an internal power issue.

It is believed the equipment breakdown happened in the late evening on Nov. 9, but went undetected until mid-day on Nov. 14, at which point immediate action was taken to fix the problem.

Wilson says the instruments involved still went through a cycle of mechanical cleaning, and were manually cleaned before they went into the mechanical washers, a step that involves detergent.

He says the equipment that ended up being used in surgeries was still disinfected and sterilized.

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Once the equipment malfunction was discovered on Nov. 14, any instruments that were not used in surgeries were re-called and re-washed.

A total of 225 patients were potentially affected by the malfunction, and VCH is currently in the process of notifying these patients by sending out letters.

After consulting medical experts, the health authority says it is not advising the patients affected to get tested or obtain any treatment.

Wilson insists the cleaning of the operating room instruments is a multi-step process with lots of redundancies built into it and they believe the potential for an infection in affected patients is virtually zero.

However, patients are being provided with a contact number if they want to obtain more information and are being told to discuss the situation with their physician, if necessary.

Wilson says there will be no impact on future surgeries as the problem has now been fixed, and they are monitoring the situation closely to make sure it won’t happen again.

B.C. Ministry of Health told Global News they have been informed by the Vancouver Coastal Health about the incident.

“The Vancouver Coastal Health is working to ensure patients and providers have the information they need,” said ministry representative Kristy Anderson. “We understand in this situation that there is virtually no risk to patients as all other sterilization processes had been completed…VCH has initiated an investigation and none of the equipment or instruments in question remain in circulation; they were all quickly recalled before they could be used in any further procedures.”

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Here is the letter being sent out to the affected patients by the Vancouver Coastal Health: 

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