Surgical tool alert halts ops at BGH

SOME surgical procedures at Borders General Hospital had to be postponed earlier this month after staff found unknown moisture on surgical equipment.

The hospital’s sterilisation and decontamination unit was alerted by staff to the issue on February 1, and an investigation found that a number of trays of surgical instruments had moisture on them.

As a result, the hospital was forced to cancel a number of surgical procedures until the problem was resolved, with NHS Lothian temporarily taking over sterilisation of equipment to ensure some operations could take place.

A review by Health Facilities Scotland, who oversee the monitoring of sterilisation units, established that the instruments were safe for use after the moisture was found to be a lubricant used to protect the instruments during sterilisation.

It was discovered that the liquid was recondensing because new wrappings on the instrument trays were not allowing the vapour to be released. Tests are being carried out on a wrap and lubricant combination which reduces the residue left behind.

Hamish McRitchie, associate medical director for the BGH, said: “We were confident that there was no risk to patients as the moisture was not introduced from outside but formed during the sterilisation process and is not harmful.

“However, we have to be cautious, which unfortunately meant postponing some procedures while it was investigated, but we did everything we could to keep this to a minimum. We have apologised to those patients whose operations have been cancelled. I am sure they understand why it was necessary.”

NHS Borders’ chief executive Calum Campbell has praised staff for their vigilance.