Sterilization of Medical Equipment
Medical instrument and device sterilization is one of the first lines of defense to combat infection in hospitals throughout the country. Something as simple as hand washing can have profoundly positive effects on limiting patient risk, proper sterilization techniques are vital in protecting patients from transmitting avoidable bacteria and infection. Unfortunately, medical device sterilization procedures throughout the country are not always up to par and can cause significant complications, injury, and even death to affected patients. If you believe improper sterilization techniques may have caused you or a loved one to fall ill, you may be entitled to compensation via a medical malpractice or negligence lawsuit in California.Simple Protocols Save Lives
An early 19th Century physician was the first to notice an inarguable correlation between washing hands and the health of his patients. Though it seems like archaic common sense now, simple protocols are what help keep patients alive in hospitals. Though there are innumerable ways that bacteria and infection can spread at a hospital, many of these are completely avoidable. Consider:
- Surgical instruments - Though many instruments are single-use for patient safety, a great number of them are also sterilized in between patients and reused. Failing to sterilize instruments properly on even one occasion may have potentially detrimental consequences on patients. Consider a recent Seattle, Washington case in which nearly 12,000 children were potentially infected by improperly cleaned surgical equipment; these children may have been exposed to Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, and even HIV.
- Medical Devices - Medical devices are critical in postoperative and non-surgical care at a hospital. Unfortunately, even conventional cleaning measures may not be enough to stop some bacteria from spreading from medical devices to patients. Several hospitals throughout the country were plagued with a bacterial infection that clung to endoscopes—devices that are commonly used to treat gallstones, cancer, and digestive health issues. The innovative technology utilized to create these devices may be moving faster than technology can allow for proper cleaning, prompting some hospitals to implement their own protocols to ensure the safety of their medical devices.
Whenever an illness or injury is linked back to a medical device or instrument, the incident must be reported to the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). These regulatory agencies are tasked with informing other medical professionals of potential dangers of current medical devices and instruments, including their sterilization effectiveness, and also must ensure that new protocols are implemented in order to safely address the issue. This may include calling patients back to be tested, even if that is an extreme precaution.
Some hospitals, including the Hoag Orthopedic Institute in Orange County, California, have taken it upon themselves to revisit their sterilization procedures to find the most effective and safe practices. Hoag chooses to limit sterilization errors by ensuring there are enough supplies in the operating room such that no equipment needs to be sterilized between patients; there is enough sterilized equipment for each patient to be given clean, sterilized, and ready-to-use medical instruments and devices.
An unsanitary medical device or instrument may lead to infection, cognitive deficits, or death. Hospitals and administrators have an obligation to implement and oversee sufficient protocols to combat disease and infection; doctors, nurses, and other staff have an obligation to ensure they are using clean, sterile instruments and devices on their patients. Failure of any of these entities or individuals to act reasonably in ensuring that all medical instruments and devices are properly sterilized may merit an actionable medical malpractice or negligence claim.Medical Malpractice and Negligence Attorneys
Our skilled San Jose medical malpractice attorneys at Corsiglia McMahon & Allard, L.L.P. know how critical patient care is at a hospital or other medical facility. One mistake by a medical professional can change the course of you and your loved one’s lives forever. Understanding that you have a right to proper care and that any deviation of the reasonable standard of care from a physician may warrant a medical malpractice claim is the first step in understanding your legal rights. Any alleged error arising from a hospital stay or doctor’s visit, however, is a uniquely time-sensitive area of the law. The sooner you are able to establish that a hospital or doctor’s negligence was the cause of your injury, the greater the chance of recovery. Thus, it is critical to contact one of our San Jose medical malpractice attorneys at (408) 289-1417 right away to learn more about your legal options and to ensure justice for you and your loved ones.