Sterilization Breach In Denver’s Porter Adventist Hospital Puts Surgery Patients At Risk For HIV, Hepatitis

The Colorado health department issued a statement notifying the public of the incident but assured everyone that the risk of contracting HIV and hepatitis is very low.

Doctors conducting a surgery have to sterilize equipment but Porter Adventist Hospital had a breach which could increase risk of HIV and hepatitis
Daniel Leal-Olivas - WPA Pool / Getty Images

The Colorado health department issued a statement notifying the public of the incident but assured everyone that the risk of contracting HIV and hepatitis is very low.

In a statement, the Colorado health department claimed that patients who have undergone orthopedic and spine surgery at Porter Adventist Hospital in Denver, Colorado are at risk for hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and HIV.

As reported by CBS Denver, the health department describes the incident as a “significant health breach.”

The said hospital notified surgery patients between July 21, 2016 and February 20, 2018. The reason for the heightened risk during the 18-month period is improper cleaning of surgical instruments used in spine and orthopedic surgeries, according to Dr. Larry Wolk of the Colorado health department. The said process was found to be inadequate which could compromise the sterilization of the said instruments.

There is no report of any infection related to the said breach. While the health department expressed concerns about the related risk, there is a very low chance that patients who went through surgery will contract hepatitis or immunodeficiency virus. There is also no risk for patients who are currently staying or seeking treatment from the hospital.

Meanwhile, Porter Adventist Hospital also issued a statement assuring patients that they are taking the necessary action.

“We want to assure patients that our team immediately acted to remedy the situation. Recent survey results released by The Joint Commission, which accredits hospitals in the United States, revealed no errors in our process or protocols.”

The health department disclosed that they received the notification from the hospital on Feb. 21. On the next day, the department conducted an on-site survey to determine the hospital’s infection control practices. The investigation involving disease control is ongoing. During the health department’s last visit on March 28, the hospital met the standard practices for infection control.

Meanwhile, patients who are facing an increased risk of catching the dreaded diseases have also been informed by mail which was sent out on April 4.

On Wednesday, April 4, Centura Health, the company operating Porter Adventist Hospital, released a statement about the gap in their pre-cleaning process. They also reiterated their commitment to creating a safe environment for their patients. They promised transparency regarding the incident in question, adding that they will provide more details as soon as it becomes available.

All patients after Feb. 20 are in no danger as Porter Adventist Hospital replaced all equipment. The health department also clarified the risk involved.

“While there is always a risk of infection during surgery, it appears there is no increased risk to current patients having surgery at Porter Adventist Hospital because of the infection control breach.”

Porter Adventist Hospital set up an emergency hotline at 303-778-5694 for patients affected by the sterilization breach and to answer their questions about HIV, hepatitis, and other risks.