Employees Call to Halt Surgeries After Finding Contaminated Trays

Unknown substances were found on surgical trays, prompting employees to call for a suspension on all surgeries.

By Mackenna Moralez, Associate Editor

Employees at Kaiser Zion Medical Center are calling for the suspension of all surgeries after trays that held sterilized surgical instruments were found to be contaminated.  

According to The San Diego Union-Tribune, employees, black, gray and brown particles of an unknown substance were found on the surgical trays. Black greasy smears of a known, but not a surgically-approved substance were also on the trays. The contamination was found to only be on the trays that hold the instruments, but not the instruments themselves.  

Employees reportedly had to open 23 trays before one was found without the contaminants.  

Kaiser has rejected the calls for a surgical shutdown, though. The facility said that it has taken all the measures to clean, process and transport surgical equipment to be used and is medically appropriate. 

The San Diego Union Tribune reports that Kaiser has had to adjust its sterilization operations after detecting an issue with equipment used to wash surgical instruments before they were sterilized. Kaiser said that the issue did cause “minute residual particles” from a hot water tank to appear, but that it was an isolated issue. It is still unclear how particles could continue to appear on the surgical trays if the previous issue was resolved. Management reportedly told workers that sterilization renders the particles they found “inert and non-microbial,” meaning they present no danger of causing infection, The San Diego Union Tribune reports.  

Mackenna Moralez is the associate editor for the facilities market.  

June 13, 2023

Topic Area: Infection Control , Safety

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