DETROIT — Detroit Medical Center admits that unclean surgical tools have caused problems and sometimes forced doctors to delay procedures, including heart surgery on a 7-month-old girl.

The Detroit News (http://detne.ws/2bEJNzt ) obtained more than 200 pages of emails and reports on broken, missing and improperly cleaned instruments at the campus of five hospitals, some written by frustrated high-ranking medical staff.

“This is something that has to be fixed,” Conrad Mallett, the DMC’s chief administration officer, told the News. “What we are not is uncaring. What we are not is negligent. What we are is concerned.”

On Thursday, the Michigan Bureau of Community Health Systems started an investigation into issues related to the sterilization of surgical equipment at DMC facilities, its director, Larry Horvath, told the newspaper in a statement.

“We encourage anyone with a complaint regarding these issues to please contact the bureau,” Horvath said.

In late May, DMC hired Unity HealthTrust of Birmingham, Alabama, to take over the Central Sterile Processing Department, which operates in the basement of a hospital.

DMC released a statement to the newspaper this week, saying “no safety issues or surgical site infections” have occurred.

The newspaper reported that heart surgery on the young girl was stopped last year when blood from another patient was discovered in a suction tube. A sterilization technician represented by a union was disciplined, but the action was overturned during a grievance hearing, the News reported.

“We were led to believe everything was OK,” said her father, Laron Mason, 21. “It’s scary to think what could have happened.”

In a June 2015 email, Children’s Hospital of Michigan chief surgeon Dr. Joseph Lelli said patients were being put at risk by unclean tools and delayed surgeries.

“Have there been occasions where the operation has not run as smoothly as we’d like? I’d say the answer is yes,” Mallett said. “But we have been very, very diligent about making sure no one is in danger.”


Information from: The Detroit News, http://detnews.com/

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