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HICprevent

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This award-winning blog supplements the articles in Hospital Infection Control & Prevention.

A disturbing exposé on the threat of HAIs via unclean instruments

January 12th, 2015

Though the prose may be a little breathless for those who have investigated their share of outbreaks -- “filthy” medical instruments causing “terrifying” infections – kudos to the Center for Public Integrity for its disturbing exposé on the recurrent challenge of cleaning and sterilizing invasive devices and equipment. I also like the fact that they begin with a patient story, the “N of 1,” as Julie Gerberding used to say, a 63-year-old man who acquired an HAI after shoulder surgery involving use of a “hand-held power tool called an arthroscopic shaver.” The report goes on to use this case as emblematic of an industry-wide problem, suggesting that a heavy toll of infections may be due to exposure to inadequately cleaned and sterilized devices. Central services departments are conjured up in scenes suggestive of Third World sweatshops, as low paid workers toil numbingly over bloody instruments. A good read, and even if you think the case is overstated in terms of the actual burden of documented HAIs, there is clearly room for improvement and this is the kind of coverage that will get the attention of lawmakers and regulators.