Former contract worker at UAB Hospital raises safety concerns in TikTok

A contract worker who previously worked at UAB Hospital in Birmingham, Ala., alleges improper storage of needles and other equipment in the sterile processing department created unsafe conditions for staff and patients, reported May 20. 

Alessandra Nicholson started working at the hospital this spring as an employee of Steris, a third-party contractor that provides sterilization services to the hospital. Ms. Nicholson shared claims about cramped working conditions in a TikTok video that had more than 23,000 views as of May 22, and told the news outlet that she and other employees have been previously injured from needles and blades. Photos shared with the news outlet appear to show piles of surgical trays and other equipment in the sterile processing department. 

"Your surgeon can be the greatest surgeon in the world," Ms. Nicholson said. "You can have the best Davinci robots in the world. But if the instruments are dirty, then the whole game is over."

UAB spokesperson Jeremy Greer denied the allegations in a statement to 

"We are aware and firmly disagree with assertions made on TikTok by an individual who worked in UAB Hospital for roughly seven weeks through a service provider and no longer works in our facility," Mr. Greer said. "UAB Hospital ranks highly among peer academic medical centers in the sophisticated Vizient Quality and Accountability Scorecard," adding the hospital recently purchased $3.4 million in new sterilization equipment and adheres to national standards. 

Mr. Greer said UAB has processes for employees to reduce interactions with sharp objects, such as using magnets to remove that equipment from surgical trays. 

"Employees whose jobs may expose them to the possibility of needle sticks or other work-related risks are thoroughly trained on safety procedures, including how to properly handle sharp objects. We also adhere to protocols to monitor and respond appropriately to any reported needle or sharp object injury," UAB said in statement to Becker's

Ms. Nicholson said her resignation from Steris was set to take effect Sept. 1 and claims she was let go early after raising concerns about unsafe working conditions at UAB.

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