Residue found on equipment at VA Hospital in Colorado

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Emergency surgeries are being referred to community hospitals and impacted veterans are being contacted by staff to reschedule.

AURORA, Colo. — All surgeries involving “reusable medical equipment” at the VA Medical Center in Aurora have been canceled after residue was found on the equipment during an inspection.

In a statement, VA Press Secretary Terrence Hayes said the residue was discovered during “recent” pre-surgery inspections. The residue was found on reusable medical equipment and, as a result, all surgeries using that equipment were temporarily canceled.

It was not clear when those surgeries will resume. In the meantime, emergency surgeries are being referred to community hospitals, and impacted veterans are being contacted by staff to reschedule.

So far, the VA said, they’ve re-scheduled or referred 181 surgeries and 52 dental appointments.

“There’s many different possibilities for what this could be,” said 9NEWS medical expert, Dr. Kohli. “So what we worry about the most is obviously some sort of biological material, right. So something left over from a previous surgery or some human tissue or protein that sort of precipitated onto the equipment. That could pose an infectious risk. We might also worry about chemical residues. When we sterilize surgical equipment, we use detergents and cleaners. And if some of those precipitate any kind of salt or chemicals, that could be a particular problem, as well. Mineral deposits from hard water, that could be a problem if it gets onto the equipment because it could affect the performance of the equipment, especially surgical equipment.”

According to Hayes, staff members identified the concern before any surgeries. They’re not aware of any patients that were harmed.

Engineering, sterile processing service and clinical staff at the VA are working to identify the cause of the residue and correct the issue, the statement says. As part of that process, samples have been sent off for testing to identify the residue.

Surgeries where disposable medical equipment is used are not affected.

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