Infections Confirmed in Porter Adventist Surgery Patients
The Colorado Health Department has confirmed surgical site infections in a number of patients who received surgery at Porter Adventist Hospital in Denver. The number of patients has not been released; the types of infection have not been disclosed.
Porter Adventist is currently under investigation after Colorado health inspectors discovered that the hospital failed to comply with mandatory sterilization protocols on surgical equipment between July 21, 2016, and April 5, 2018. The health department was notified of the breach on February 21st, and conducted an on-site survey the next day.
Dr. Larry Wolk, Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), released this latest update to the ongoing saga in a statement on CDPHE’s website. The hospital is set to resume surgeries on a limited schedule as of April 12, 2018, after instituting a number of recommended changes.
Patients who received orthopedic or spinal surgery between July 2016 and April 2018 at Porter Adventist Hospital were exposed to hepatitis B, hepatitis C, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), and other bacterial and viral infections. Orthopedic surgery is any invasive procedure performed on the musculoskeletal system: the bones, joints, muscles, ligaments, and tendons. Common orthopedic surgeries include arthroscopy, joint replacement, bone fracture repair, and soft tissue repair.
Patients must understand the risk that these infections can pose to their entire family. These are diseases that can be spread by individuals to their family or partners. While Porter is warning patients, if you were infected in 2016, you may have unknowingly spread the infection. This means that you are not the only one at risk from these egregious sterilization failures.
According to The Denver Post, Porter Adventist is “one of [Colorado’s] busiest hospitals for orthopedic surgeries.” Between August 2015 and July 2016, prior to the safety breach, Porter performed more than 2,000 knee and hip replacements, and had eight surgical site infections associated with those surgeries. Since the breach, neither the hospital nor the CDPHE has released the number of surgeries for the period in question, July 2016–April 2018.
We have no idea how many patients and their families were exposed to these infectious diseases.
According to Porter Adventist, there was a “low risk of surgical site infection or bloodborne pathogen transmission,” yet the hospital only halted surgeries once CDPHE “recommended” that the patients who had been exposed to potentially lethal infections be notified. Porter Adventist continued to perform surgeries during the investigation up until they were forced to go public on April 4, 2018.
Upon discovery of the safety breach—specifically, that residue was found on surgical instruments—Porter claimed that the water quality was to blame. However, CDPHE tested the water and found that it was “well within the typical range found in drinking water.”
In this latest update confirming patient infections, CDPHE stressed, “It is unknown if these infections are linked to the breach, and we may not be able to determine linkage.” It also stated that the risk of getting infections in this “event” was unknown, and that the risk of contracting bloodborne pathogens like HIV, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C was—you guessed it; also unknown. But we at Leventhal & Puga, P.C., intend to find out.
Porter Adventist has set up free blood testing for potential victims with LapCorp. In order to receive this testing, former surgery patients must bring the Critical Warning Letter they should have received from Porter Adventist on April 4, 2018, to the LapCorp facility nearest to them.
This is not the first time Porter has been sanctioned. In fact, they were sanctioned by the State of Colorado in 2013.
We urge anyone who received orthopedic or spinal surgery during this time period to contact us immediately at (877) 433-3906. Leventhal & Puga, P.C., is actively investigating these cases. In addition, we strongly recommend you be tested immediately for infectious diseases. Though surgical site infections tend to present sooner, the infectious diseases that Porter Adventist patients were exposed to include HIV, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C, which may take some time to manifest.
If you suffered an infection after surgery, we want to hear your story. If you worry that you might have contracted an infectious disease, we want to help you.
Contact our top-rated Colorado medical malpractice attorneys right away. We have experience advocating for victims of several other major hospital safety breaches, including the Swedish Medical Center breach in which nearly 4,000 patients were exposed to HIV, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C. We have also won the largest medical malpractice verdict(s) in Colorado history for our clients.
For a no-cost, confidential consultation, please call us today at (877) 433-3906.