ALAMOSA — SLV Regional Medical Center administration recently sent a letter to patients who were affected by an issue with equipment used to perform colonoscopies this summer. The letter included an invitation to a presentation by surgical staff to give them an opportunity to ask questions, provide feedback and ensure that patients fully understand what happened.
The situation involved only the final cleaning process used for this equipment from July 17 to August 13. Upon discovery of this concern, colonoscopy procedures were ceased and a clinical review of the process began. Seventy-one patients who had colonoscopies during this time frame were notified by RNs and during the following two weeks, all of them presented to the lab to have a baseline test which will enable the hospital to rule out blood borne illnesses. At the time, the hospital assured patients that any risk of infection was low.
“We intend to see you through this, encourage you and advise you that we have seen nothing in all of the initial lab test results that lead us to believe there is a health risk to any of you as result of this event,” SLVRMC Chief Medical Officer, Greg McAuliffe, MD, wrote in the letter. He also reminded patients that they will have their second and final lab test in February to confirm clear results.
Following this event, SLVRMC conducted in-depth assessment of the circumstances of this event.
At the request of SLVRMC, the manufacturer sent a clinical specialist to review the updated cleaning procedures of the equipment and colonoscopy procedures resumed at SLVRMC on Aug. 20. Since then, approximately 250 colonoscopies have been performed here without incident.
“We will continue to be open and transparent as to every aspect of this unfortunate situation. As a result of this incident, we have put new processes in place and made system improvements as well as having integrated new techniques to assure the highest level of safety for patients,” Dr. McAuliffe wrote.
The hospital has been contacted by several other organizations to understand how the incident was discovered so quickly, what their response with patients has been, and the steps being taken to resolve the issue going forward.
“We have learned a lot from this incident and that’s just essential. We can’t be perfect but we will learn all we can from what happened here. It would be a greater shame than the event itself if we did not to learn from it, share that with others and make something positive for future patients,” he said.