General Leonard Wood Army Community Hospital has identified a potential risk to patients who underwent gynecological or general surgery involving improperly sterilized laparoscopy equipment from Aug. 1, 2017 to Jan. 26, 2018. GLWACH will notify the 135 patients potentially exposed by letter within the next few weeks.

“While the risk of infection is extremely low, we regret that we may cause our patients any concern,” GLWACH commander, Col. Christian Meko said. “The safety of our patients is always at the forefront of everything we do. The instruments were cleaned in a manner inconsistent with sterilization guidelines and were removed from use.”

Manufacturer specifications require the instruments be separated into two pieces during pre-cleaning. This step was omitted; however, the instruments did go through the remaining sterilization process.

“We are working collaboratively with Army headquarters and The Joint Commission to ensure our processes are seamless. Additionally, our efforts can help other hospitals so they don’t encounter a similar problem,” Meko said. Sterilization personnel received immediate retraining on decontamination of the instruments in accordance with manufacturer’s standards.

“As a high reliability organization, we seek to continuously improve the safety and quality of care at GLWACH. We take any potential risk to patient safety very seriously and are committed to doing all we can to mitigate any risks,” Meko said. “We have reported the event to The Joint Commission,” he added.