Cases similar to John Harrison are occurring more often than they should.
Harrison and six other patients from a Texas hospital contracted potentially lethal infections due to dirty instruments that were used during a surgical procedure.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention investigated Harrison’s case and found bacteria passed through the sterilization process on an arthroscopic shaver which infected his arm.
Other investigations in hospitals across the country have revealed the use of other dirty surgical instruments that have led to infection outbreaks.
The departments responsible for cleaning and reassembling surgical instruments are typically found in hospital basements and are known as sterile processing.
According to the Center for Public Integrity report, these workers feel more like they are doing an unrecognized service with pressure from nurses and surgical staff to make the sterilization process fast. The faster the instruments make it to the operating rooms, the more surgical procedures.
New research also found that too often surgical instruments are leaving the sterilization department with hidden blood, tissue and other debris still on the instruments.
Currently, New Jersey is the only state that requires hospital sterilization workers to go through training.
Regulations in hospitals need to be tighter and better communicated between sterilization department and operating room.
Read more about best practices on properly cleaning surgical instruments.