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London Health Sciences Centre is resuming elective surgeries Thursday after resolving a medical device cleaning issue that cancelled a day-and-a-half of non-emergency procedures at the region’s largest hospital.

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LHSC officials announced Wednesday afternoon the issue in its medical device reprocessing unit, which caused staining on the liner of some of the hospital’s surgical trays, had been pinpointed and fixed.

“We have managed, thankfully, to identify the root cause of the issue, which was within our steam system at University Hospital,” system innovation and business development executive Tammy Quigley said Wednesday.

“Repairs were made late last night and a commissioning has to happen to get the system up and running again. And of course, we have to re-run through all of our trays to get them ready for surgery tomorrow.”

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The hospital said Tuesday the risk to patients is low but cancelled all elective surgeries for the remainder of the day and all day Wednesday out of an “abundance of caution.”

About 150 non-urgent surgeries and procedures at both campuses and LHSC’s off-site operating rooms at the Nazem Kadri surgical centre on Baseline Road were cancelled and rebooked for a later date, Quigley said.

All trays without stains were redirected so emergency surgeries could continue, the hospital said in a statement Wednesday afternoon.

The surgical device reprocessing team, the department that decontaminates, sterilizes and organizes surgical implements at LHSC, discovered stains on the liners of its surgical trays – sterilized trays that hold operating room tools including scalpels, forceps and scissors – at University Hospital and Victoria Hospital Tuesday.

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Medical devices undergo quality control assessments after they emerge from the steam sterilizer, the final stage of the process, Quigley said. It was in one of these assessments that the slight staining of the trays was caught by staff.

The culprit was a mechanical issue in the steam sterilizer, she said.

“The steam comes through a series of valves and traps that are necessary for it to work correctly,” Quigley said.

“We identified there was a challenge with some of those steam valves and they were replaced. . . . We commissioned the system and ran 16 test loads across the University site and our Victoria site and all was good to go.”

Medical device reprocessing is a key facet of any hospital. LHSC’s team has more than 120 members across two hospital sites and turns around 25,000 medical devices each day.

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