UMC in Texas stops elective surgeries after issues in sterile processing department

The University Medical Center of El Paso (Texas) has canceled elective and non-emergency surgeries after the Joint Commission gave the hospital a preliminary denial of accreditation, according to an El Paso Times report.

According to the Joint Commission website, a preliminary denial of accreditation is recommended in the following situations:

  • Immediate threat to the health or safety of patients or the public
  • Submission of falsified documents or misrepresented information
  • Lack of a required license or similar issue at time of survey
  • Failure to resolve the requirements of a contingent accreditation status
  • Significant noncompliance with Joint Commission standards

In this case, the Joint Commission found problems with some processes, certifications and documentation in the sterile processing department at UMC, according to the report. "This decision is subject to review and appeal by the organization before the determination to deny accreditation," the Joint Commission website states. UMC has 23 days to correct the issue, El Paso Times reported.

Jim Valenti, the hospital's CEO, told the press Saturday that the hospital took "immediate action" after the Joint Commission notified the hospital of the preliminary denial of accreditation decision on Thursday, July 9.

To fix the issues, the hospital's eight sterilization department workers are working with nurse managers and infection control specialists, and UMC has contracted with Integrated Medical Systems, a surgical device management and clinical consulting company that specializes in sterilization, according to the El Paso Times. Additionally, the hospital's sterilization equipment will be recertified, and infection control specialists will work together with IMS in the sterile processing department.

Elective surgeries and nonemergency surgical procedures will resume at UMC after the problems are fixed. Patients with such procedures scheduled were given the option of transferring to another hospital, rescheduling or signing a waiver to acknowledge the problems the Joint Commission found, according to a KVIA report. Emergency surgery cases will still be handled at UMC, which is the only Level I trauma center in a 250-mile radius of El Paso, according to the hospital.

A call from Becker's to UMC for comment was not immediately returned.

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