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After Infections, Hope for Exeter Hospital

Marianne Aiello, for HealthLeaders Media, August 8, 2012

But the bulk of media attention remains on Exeter. Though Kwiatkowski was arrested in July, Exeter faced several surveys and inspections, as well as accusations that it did not take staff allegations against the technician as seriously as it should have.

In its defense, Exeter Hospital administration has faced all of these surveys, accusations, and media inquiries directly, while keeping its patients informed. Its approach to the crisis reminds me of a larger scale version of the situation Forbes Regional Hospital and its parent company, West Penn Allegheny Health System, faced in 2004. Eight years later, Forbes has bounced back, and Exeter can too.

Address the situation head-on

Forbes' public health crisis arose when it purchased new scopes to be used during colonoscopies, which the hospital believed to be the same model as its then-current scopes. Thus, it continued to sterilize the scopes in the same manner as it did the older versions.

Unfortunately, it turned out the new scopes had undergone a significant design change which made the sterilization process in place no longer adequate. (The hospital maintains that the scope company did not inform them of the change.)

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