Denver hospital's 18-month infection control breach possibly exposes unknown number to HIV, hepatitis: 3 things to know

Denver-based Porter Adventist Hospital is working to contact orthopedic and spine surgery patients who may have been put at added risk for surgical site infections or exposure to hepatitis B, hepatitis C or HIV due to inadequate surgical equipment sterilization practices implemented over an 18-month period.

Here are three things to know.

1. The possible exposures occurred at Porter Adventist Hospital between July 21, 2016, and Feb. 20, 2018. The hospital mailed letters to the patients notifying them of the risk on April 4.

2. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment became aware of the sterilization breach Feb. 21 and subsequently conducted an on-site survey of the hospital Feb. 22. The health department is continuing to conduct a disease investigation into the infection control lapse and last visited the hospital on March 28, when inspectors confirmed the hospital's current infection control practices were up to standard.

"The department is not aware of any patient infections related to the breach at this time," said CDPHE April 4. "The risk of surgical site infection related to this event (above the usual risk related to surgery) is unknown. The risk of getting HIV, hepatitis B or hepatitis C because of this issue is considered very low."

3. Porter Adventist Hospital is providing potentially exposed patients with information about surgical site infections and offering testing to patients for bloodborne pathogens, according to a statement from the hospital emailed to Becker's Hospital Review.

"We understand that this information may cause concern, and are working closely with our patient care team, doctors and staff to ensure any patients involved have the information and resources they need," said the hospital. "We want to assure patients that our team immediately acted to remedy the situation. Recent survey results released by The Joint Commission, which accredits hospitals in the United States, revealed no errors in our process or protocols."

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