Porter Adventist mailed letters to patients who had orthopedic or spine surgery, warning them of a potential infection risk owing to improperly cleaned surgical instruments.
Porter Adventist Hospital in Denver on Wednesday notified patients who had orthopedic or spine surgery within the past 20 months that they may have been exposed to surgical site infections for hepatitis B, hepatitis C or HIV.
"The process for cleaning surgical instruments following orthopedic and spine surgeries was found to be inadequate, which may have compromised the sterilization of the instruments," said Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment CMO Larry Wolk, MD.
The letters were sent to patients who had orthopedic or spine surgery at Porter between July 21, 2016 and Feb. 20, 2018, warning them of the potential infection risk.
It was not made clear how many people may have been exposed to the potential infections, but Colorado public health officials said they are not aware of any patient infections related to the breach.
Wolk cautioned that the risk of surgical site infection related to the breach is unknown, but that the risk of getting HIV, hepatitis B or hepatitis C because of this issue "is considered very low."
The state health department was notified of the breach Feb. 21. The department conducted an on-site survey of infection control practices at the hospital. A disease control investigation is ongoing.
The department last visited the hospital March 28, confirming that current infection-control practices meet standards.
Porter Adventist stopped using and reprocessed all surgical equipment in question Feb. 20. The hospital said there appears to be no increased risks to current surgery patients.
John Commins is a senior editor at HealthLeaders.