The presence of “super bugs” and other dangerous microorganisms and contaminants is everywhere. One of the only things that protect patient health is the thorough sterilization that medical equipment and surfaces in a medical facility undergo on a routine basis. The use of powerful germicides, coupled with high heat when sterilizing medical tools and equipment, is necessary to ensure a sterile environment. When there is a problem with that process, the impact on the wellbeing of a patient may be horrific.
The proliferation of microorganisms happens quickly. Once they have begun to multiply, it requires more and more intensive sterilization procedures to wipe out enough to minimize the risk of patient infection. When the maintenance schedule is not established in an effective manner, the sterilization process is not done properly, or the medical professionals do not exercise due care, patient health may be in serious jeopardy.
Various regulations require specific procedures to be followed, including requiring doctors, dentists, and other medical professionals to wear gloves and protective garb while examining patients, changing all protective garb before moving on to examine or operate on the next patient, disposing of medical instruments that have been contaminated with blood or saliva in the proper containers, and regularly washing hands and arms, depending on the anticipated contact with patients.
Some of the problems that may occur during the patient protection protocols or the sterilization process include:
- Failing to schedule routine disinfection of environmental surfaces with the right type of germicide;
- Ordering disinfection with a germicide that is not powerful enough to kill the microorganisms that are present in a hospital facility;
- Placing more medical tools in the sterilization chamber than it is able to clean effectively;
- Failing to follow the proper maintenance schedule in order to detect a malfunction in equipment before it causes dangerous problems;
- Failing to use the proper temperature to clean the equipment;
- Failing to place the equipment to be sterilized in the machine for a long enough period of time;
- Contaminating surfaces where bacteria and other contaminants may be spread, including doorknobs, handles, countertops, and the interior of drawers;
- Reusing equipment or instruments that have been contaminated with saliva, blood, or other bodily fluids;
- Closing a container before sterilization, inhibiting the cleaning process;
- Failing to wash one’s hands between treating a person or operating on a patient;
- Failing to separate different trays of instruments, leading to cross-contamination;
- Failing to change gowns, masks, and gloves between patients; and
- Failing to properly use a sterilization process, such as an autoclave or vapor cleaning device.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has published recommendations for minimizing the risk of infection and the spread of disease. There are sterilization protocols that must be followed in order to maintain equipment and the surrounding environment in a safe manner, including those established by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). This also means that certain types of tools and medical implements must routinely be replaced. The different types of microorganisms that may be present require that different techniques must be utilized, including scrubbing medical tools before using a sterilization machine or increasing the number of hours over which a germicide is applied.
The sterilization techniques that are used must be sufficient to protect against airborne pathogens, as well as those microorganisms that are transmitted through fluids, such as blood and saliva.
Murphy & Associates Advocate for Those Harmed by Negligence
If your visit to the doctor, hospital, or other medical facility resulted in a serious infection or the exposure to a dangerous disease as the result of negligence on the part of the medical professionals or the facility management, then you may be entitled to compensation for the injury, as well as your pain and suffering. The compassionate and knowledgeable Kentucky Malpractice Attorneys at Murphy & Associates will fight for the justice that you deserve. To schedule a comprehensive case evaluation, without charge, call us at (502) 203-0167.