"Extremely Dangerous, and Potentially Fatal Outcome for Patients": Another Anonymous Letter from SPD

(We recently received another anonymous letter from one of our listeners. It is another poignant reminder of the reality of far too many Sterile Processing departments and earnest professionals in our industry. These are the real challenges facing our teams today. We can't afford to ignore it.)


"In reading the anonymous letter to the Sterile Processing Industry I was stunned to find out that my hospital was not the only hospital that has a "dirty" secret! I felt compelled to respond as I have been living in silence far too long. I ask that you keep my response anonymous as well.


 I have been doing Sterile Processing for four years now. I am merely a toddler in a trade full of lifers who have been doing this for twenty plus years. In my time of training and learning, I have been shaken to the point of taking a step back and only working on the weekends. The things that I have witnessed have made me terrified to ever have surgery. 


Dirty floors, contaminated clean areas, and mishandling of instruments is just the tip of the iceberg. I have witnessed people cutting corners and literally jeopardizing the life of the patient. Countless times there has been bio-burden found by the OR on instruments that were supposed to be clean and sterile. I have seen techs take trays out of the case cart in decontamination and shove them in the washer without inspecting them and hand washing them. I have witnessed robotic arms going straight into the washer, skipping the twenty min pre-soak and ultrasonic all together. 


I personally have been ordered by my supervisor to hand wash ortho instruments that were knowingly contaminated with Hepatitis C, and put them through the window so they could be flashed, or IUSSed, for the next case. 


No one ever conducts the proper test on the lap grasper tubes to ensure there are no knicks or holes in the tube. In fact I am not certain what the test is called, because we never do it. The only reason I know we are supposed to is because of the inservice. O