Porter Adventist surgeon calls off spine surgery after discovering dirty instruments

A patient at Denver-based Porter Adventist Hospital says a surgeon halted his spine surgery partway through the procedure after finding an unknown contaminant on several surgical instruments, reports 9News.

Here are four things to know.

1. The patient, 61-year old John Kraswoski, underwent the surgery April 4. Mr. Kraswoski's medical records indicate the surgical staff aborted the procedure after the "discovery of contaminant on a number of the instruments," including a "brown-yellowish … pasty material" on one tool, according to 9News. The same surgeon successfully performed the procedure on Mr. Kraswoski a few days later at a different hospital.

2. The same day as Mr. Kraswoski's surgery, Porter Adventist sent letters to about 5,800 orthopedic and spine surgery patients, notifying them of an 18-month-long sterilization breach that could put them at an increased risk for surgical site infections or exposure to hepatitis B, hepatitis C or HIV. The hospital temporarily suspended surgeries April 5 and divulged the sterilization issue was a matter of human error April 12.

3. Mr. Kraswoski was not aware of the sterilization issues — or the then-ongoing investigation by the state health department — when he underwent his surgery. He said his surgeon advocated for him as a patient when he stopped the procedure, but expressed concerns about how the hospital responded to the infection control issues.

"I mean, they knew about this problem, and here it shows up again … the day of my surgery, they find more," he told 9News. "What does that tell you? … [S]omething is not right."

4. Porter Adventist declined to comment on Mr. Kraswoski's individual case. However, the hospital did tell 9News the residue found on surgical instruments was caused by a buildup of calcium, iron and other minerals in the hospital's water source, which was unrelated to the hospital's sterilization breach.

"Although completely safe, any increase in minerals when flowing with the equipment can cause some mineral deposit and buildup," the hospital said in a statement. "Once the residue was discovered, Porter Adventist Hospital immediately and voluntarily paused all surgeries in an abundance of caution. It's important to remember that the water quality issue was completely separate from the gap in the pre-cleaning process prior to sterilization."

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