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Reviewing the guidelines for the cleaning of surgical instruments

When you enter into a hospital or surgical center in Queens for a procedure, you likely do so assuming that the environment in which your surgery will be performed is sterile, and that the instruments being used will have been cleaned and sanitized to the strictest of standards. Many others may share this same assumption, yet clients keep coming to us here at Futterman, Sirotkin and Seinfeld LLP having suffered surgical site infections. This could be due to the fact that even though there are suggested guidelines for the cleaning of surgical instruments, some of them may be just that: suggestions.

The Healthcare Infection Control Practices Advisory Committee has issued guidelines for disinfection and sterilization in healthcare facilities. In these guidelines, it categorizes the recommendations made into four distinct classifications:

  •          Category IA
  •          Category IB
  •          Category IC
  •          Category II

Of the four, Categories IA, IB and II are merely suggested for implementation. IA recommendations are those supported by epidemiologic, experimental or clinical studies, while IB recommendation share the same support along with theoretical rationale. II recommendations are suggested, yet no clinical consensus has yet been reached regarding their efficacy. Only Category IC recommendations are required by federal or state law.

Surprisingly, the only HICPAC recommendations that meet the criteria be classified as Category IC are those involving the cleaning of blood contaminants and the concentration of cleaning solutions. However, simply because no law is in place mandating the cleaning procedure of surgical instruments does not mean that providers are not required to do it. Indeed, if you show that the instruments used in your case were not cleaned to HICPAC standards, you could make a case for negligence.

You can find more information on surgical errors by continuing to browse through our site. 

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