Regarding the March 14 CS-T article, "Report shows Sheridan hospital failed to sterilize equipment last year," by Joan Barron.
Claims by Sheridan Memorial Hospital and the Wyoming Department of Health that there have been no infections or complications reported in relation to the hospital's failure to adequately sterilize the laryngeal airway masks (LMAs) between surgical patient uses is ludicrous for two reasons.
First, because the hospital did not notify affected surgical patients of their exposure to inadequately sterilized devices, patients experiencing any infections or complications would not have attributed such events to the exposure since they were unaware that inadequately sterilized LMAs had been used.
Second, certain infections may be asymptomatic and, without appropriate screening, may have gone undetected so far.
Therefore, as we stated in our letter to the health department, the agency should immediately require that the hospital implement a plan to (a) notify each patient who was exposed to the inadequately sterilized LMAs between May and November 2011 about the risks of this exposure, (b) offer them screening for potential infections that may have resulted from such exposure, and (c) treat any patients found to have been infected.
The hospital's press release, which states that "any patients who may have had surgery between May and November of 2011 and might have questions or concerns can contact the hospital" falls far short of what is needed. It is highly unlikely that the affected surgical patients will see this press release, and if they did, they would still be unaware that their surgeries involved the use of inadequately sterilized LMAs.