Medical instruments in an operating room

If you have suffered harm due to improperly sterilized surgical instruments, you need more than highly skilled medical treatment. You need the services of a skilled medical malpractice attorney. Contact Nagel Rice LLP in New Jersey today for a free consultation so that we can evaluate your case. Once you become our client, you will be charged no attorney fees until we have brought you the meaningful compensation you deserve.

Diseases Improperly Sterilized Surgical Instruments Can Spread

High-level disinfection, medically known as HLD, is the process that eliminates all pathogenic microorganisms on surgical devices and instruments, except for small numbers of bacterial spores. When HLD is not properly administered, breaches in sterilization can result in one or many patients being infected with:

All of these are severe, life-threatening infections, any of which may prove fatal. Depending on individual circumstances, doctors, nurses, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and/or hospitals or surgical facilities may be held liable if surgical instruments are found to be the cause of patient illness transmitted during major surgery or a surgical procedure of any kind.

What leads to improper sterilization of surgical instruments?

Unfortunately, there are many ways sterilization can fail, all related to human error:

1. Improper cleaning 

Often, a mistake in the first critical step of instrument cleaning can lead to organic debris and/or contaminants being left on the tool. Blood, saliva, urine, and fecal matter can be adherent if not scrubbed manually with brushes. If contaminants adhere to the device throughout further processes, sterilization is ineffective. 

2. Use of improper or defective sterilizing equipment

There is a chance that healthcare professionals may fail to precisely follow the manufacturer’s direction and misuse the product on which patients’ lives depend. Rare, but still possible in medical settings, healthcare providers may use sterilizing equipment that is not FDA-cleared and has not gone through the rigid testing methods that confirm its capabilities.

3. Improper packaging

Though it may seem counterintuitive surgical instruments are often sterilized in their packages. This is done to make certain the sanitized tool remains safely within its protected environment before use. However, using the wrong type of packaging or excessively wrapping the instrument can render the sterilization process unproductive.

4. Overloading the sterilizer     

Although most recently manufactured sterilization chambers have racks or trays to restrict the number of instruments sterilized at one time, some older equipment may not have a clearly defined capacity. If there are too many surgical instruments in a sterilizer, the process can fail and leave the instruments contaminated. 

5. Interference with the sterilization process 

If the proper temperature, time, or pressure is not reached because of overloading or not maintained because the door of the sterilizer is opened mid-cycle, sterilization can be incomplete and result in extreme hazards.

6. Inadequate maintenance of sterilization equipment

Like other kinds of equipment, sterilization equipment requires that devices be maintained regularly according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Worn door gaskets and seals, and defective gauges can lead to inaccurate readings and ineffective sterilization.

7. Failure to purchase new surgical instruments when necessary

It should go without saying that sterilization and patient health must be considered vastly more important than budgetary concerns, but the need for the replacement of medical equipment is not always given top priority.  

Necessary Steps to Sterilize Surgical Instruments

For surgical instruments to be sufficiently sterilized to keep patients safe, healthcare providers must be extremely careful to:

  • Place contaminated surgical instruments in sterile water or an approved enzymatic detergent before leaving the operating room.
  • Remove foreign matter by scrubbing the instruments with brushes designed for the purchase, as well as water with appropriate detergents or enzymatic cleaners.
  • Manually clean hard-to-clean instruments, e.g. laparoscopic instruments.
  • Use fluids under pressure (fluidics) to remove debris from internal parts and hidden spaces of instruments, being careful to open hinges and take apart all modular instruments.

If these steps have not been taken, and you became sick or lost a loved one due to the resulting contamination, we will fight vigorously for your right to substantial damages.

Why Nagel Rice Is the Wise Choice

For over 40 years, we have been fighting for the rights of patients who have become ill as a result of the actions of health providers who were supposed to help heal them. We know that the feeling of betrayal by the medical profession makes your situation even worse, and we are fully committed to holding those responsible accountable for your physical, emotional, and financial damages.

Our lawyers are well-respected by clients and peers alike for their:

  • Investigative acuity when it comes to thoroughly checking 

medical reports and forensic evidence

  • Ability to identify, locate, and interview witnesses
  • Ability to check for any previous accusations, settlements, or verdicts

against the defendant

  • Access to a network of medical and technical experts whose testimony 

will support your claim

  • History of winning over $1 billion in settlements and verdicts for our clients

You can rely on our excellent negotiation and litigation skills to see you through this ordeal and our compassion to provide you with moral support during this difficult time.

We Will Work Tirelessly to Recover Damages for You and Your Family

Working with us will give you the best chance of recovering the damages you need to restart your life. We will fight aggressively to provide you with the funds you need to cover medical expenses, replace lost income (present and future), and reimburse you for pain and suffering, and loss of enjoyment of life.

If you have lost a loved one to wrongful death, we will do everything in our power to recover damages for final medical expenses, funeral and burial/cremation costs, and loss of financial and emotional support.  

Contact Our Experienced Medical Malpractice Attorneys Today

We will take over from here. Get in touch with us promptly so we can make your cause our cause. Contact us now for the excellent legal representation and personal attention you need and are entitled to receive.