Hospital Patients in Colorado at Risk of Hepatitis & HIV Following Surgery

The risk comes after it was found that surgical instruments used for orthopedic and spine surgeries were not cleaned properly and consequently, the sterilization of those instruments was compromised.

Patients who underwent orthopedic or spine surgeries at the Porter Adventist Hospital in Denver, Colorado between July 21, 2016 and February 20, 2018, are at risk of HIV, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, or surgical site infections, according to a statement from Larry Wolk, MD, executive director and chief medical officer at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. No infections have been reported at this time.

The risk comes after it was found that surgical instruments used for orthopedic and spine surgeries were not cleaned properly and consequently, the sterilization of those instruments was compromised. The instruments in question were put out of use and reprocessed on February 20. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment was notified of the breach on February 21 and conducted a full-onsite survey of infection control practices at the hospital the next day. According to Dr. Wolk, “A disease control investigation is ongoing. The department last visited the hospital March 28, confirming that current infection-control practices meet standards.”

The hospital mailed letters to patients who may have been impacted by the breach in infection control practices notifying them of the risk of infection on April 4. Any patients who underwent surgery during the identified time period of the breach may also contact Porter Adventist.

Although all surgeries come with some degree of risk of infection, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, asserted in their statement that, “it appears there is no increased risk to current patients having surgery at Porter Adventist Hospital because of the infection control breach.” Furthermore, the department stated that although the risk of surgical site infection related to the breach is unknown, the risk of acquiring HIV, hepatitis B, or hepatitis C is considered very low.