Missouri lawmaker, VA chief meet over hospital concerns

Thursday, February 10, 2011 | 10:58 a.m. CST; updated 9:28 a.m. CST, Thursday, February 17, 2011

ST. LOUIS — A St. Louis congressman is meeting Thursday with Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki over sterilization concerns at the John Cochran VA Medical Center.

Democrat Russ Carnahan is a member of the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs. He has said that during his meeting with Shinseki he will again call for a top-to-bottom review of the St. Louis medical center.

Also Thursday, a VA undersecretary is touring Cochran and meeting with workers and veterans. And a private sector watchdog group called The Joint Commission is inspecting the hospital.

Surgeries at Cochran have been on hold since Feb. 2 after potentially contaminated surgical equipment was discovered. And last year, faulty sterilization at the center's dental clinic raised concerns that 1,812 veterans were potentially exposed to hepatitis and HIV.


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Jeremy Calton February 10, 2011 | 12:26 p.m.

Sterilization concerns include:
1) Water spots
--I'm not sure what that signifies, other than hard water, but maybe that does mean contamination
2) Someone handled equipment before it was put in the autoclave.
--It doesn't matter what you do to it BEFORE it goes in an autoclave. Ask anyone who knows what an autoclave is. This is nonsensical, and was one of the outright dumbest stories of 2010, yet it is still being referred to as a "scare" at this paper, as recently as last Friday.
This is the modern media and government's motto in a nutshell: BE AFRAID.

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking February 10, 2011 | 2:05 p.m.

Jeremy Calton wrote:

"Water spots"

It does mean hard water. They recommend that deionized or distilled water be used in an autoclave's boiler, but over time, minerals can build up and cause spots. It's an equipment maintenance issue, not a sterility issue.

"It doesn't matter what you do to it BEFORE it goes in an autoclave"

Well, yes it does. One could autoclave a dog turd, and that would sterilize it, but it would still cause an immune reaction if it entered a patient on a surgical instrument. That's an extreme example, but instruments also need to be clean to remove any possibility of allergens or other reactive non-infectious agents on instruments. This is an area of extreme caution due to the liabilities involved.

You're right, it's a pretty overreactive world we're in. I guess that's good, though - it means we're mostly down to sweating the small stuff.


(Report Comment)

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