State declares 'immediate jeopardy' at UC San Diego hospital over dirty surgical instruments

California health officials declared "immediate jeopardy" at UC San Diego Health-Hillcrest  in March for at least the eighth time after officials discovered issues with how surgical equipment was cleaned, according to ABC 10 News.

The deficiencies were discovered during the California Department of Public Health's routine compliance check at the hospital in March. Officials placed the hospital in "immediate jeopardy," which indicates a hospital's errors have caused or are likely to cause serious injury or death to patients. The designation was lifted 24 hours after it was initiated.

Officials said in their report the hospital's "surgical instruments were not cleaned and processed according to nationally recognized infection control standards," and that UC San Diego Health-Hillcrest "failed to ensure they had an effective, active systemwide infection control program," according to the report.

The health department's report noted several deficiencies, including trays with surgical equipment that had brown staining, sterilization machines that reportedly contained large amounts of rust and were covered in dirt, and post-operative instruments that had red stains, ABC 10 News reports.

UC San Diego Health said in a June 7 statement to ABC 10 News: "UC San Diego Health recently underwent a routine survey with the California Department of Public Health (CDPH). Opportunities for improvement were identified within an early phase of instrument cleaning that occurs before the actual sterilization. Immediate actions were taken.

"In an abundance of caution, UC San Diego Health chose to reprocess (clean, decontaminate and sterilize) all surgical instruments. CDPH approved this comprehensive approach. UC San Diego Health conducted a review of surgical data before, during and after the survey. This review found no infections related to cleaning and sterilization processes. There has been no evidence of patient impact or harm."

Hospital officials told the television station it was not necessary to notify patients of the designation and surgeries were not canceled.

UC San Diego Health-Hillcrest has received the "immediate jeopardy" designation from various health agencies at least seven other times during a period of 11 years, according to a December 2017 press release from the California Department of Public Health cited by ABC 10 News.

To access the ABC 10 News report, click here.

Editor's note: This article was updated June 12 at 8 a.m. to include additional information from UC San Diego Health.

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