Hospitals Must Clean Medical Equipment!

September 29, 2015

Failure to Keep Medical Instruments Clean Can be Medical Malpractice

Infections at hospitals are a serious and dangerous problem. Sometimes those infections are simply a risk of surgery or a stay in the hospital. But other times, the infection is a direct result of a failure to properly clean instruments or follow other cleanliness requirements. Frequently, the problem is not with traditional metal instruments, which are easy to clean, but more complicated medical tools such as endoscopies that are frequently used in gallbladder surgery.

The FDA Wants to Raise Awareness


There are many types of endoscopes. They can often be more difficult to clean than simple medical equipment.

Early in 2015, the FDA released a warning notice regarding duodenoscopes. These devices need to be cleaned properly in order to avoid, “infectious agents,” including those likely to cause “multidrug-resistant bacterial infections.” The problem is that if not properly cleaned, “[r]esidual body fluids and organic debris may remain in” crevices of the devices. In an updated report, the FDA provides specific recommendations on making certain these scopes are safe for subsequent patients.  While the FDA cannot force design changes in medical equipment, it can withdraw permission to use certain types of equipment if the problem becomes too serious.

When is Infection a Potential Medical Malpractice Claim in Philadelphia?

Hospitals are required to set and follow sanitary protocols for all medical equipment. If they fail to do so and the patient experiences a life-threatening or even deadly infection, this could lead to a medical malpractice claim. The protocols required are set by what is standard in hospitals across the United States, but they may include:

  • Use of antibiotics before surgery
  • Following sanitary protocols for changing tubes, washing hands, cleaning and sterilizing equipment, etc.
  • Promptly recognizing and managing infection if one should occur, especially deadly infections such as MRSA.
  • Proof that the hospital’s failure to act properly caused the infection. This might come in the form of direct observation by a patient, his family members, or even an employee of the hospital.
  • If the hospital retained a third-party to make certain that the equipment is properly cleaned, that business might be the liable company should your loved one become ill.

What Should you do if a Hospital Failed to Clean its Medical Equipment?

sanitize medical equipment

Hospitals are required to properly sanitize their instruments to protect patients from infections.

If you notice that a hospital failed to properly sterilize equipment, obviously it is best to speak up before such equipment is used. But rarely would a patient or family member know if a piece of medical equipment has been properly cleaned. If you believe that your infection occurred due to an error in the hospital, the best solution is to speak with a medical malpractice lawyer to help you determine if there is a relationship between negligence at the hospital and your serious injuries. Feel free to contact us at Lowenthal & Abrams and we can help you determine whether you  have a claim for your injuries, loss of wages and pain and suffering.



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