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Non-Sterile Surgical Tools Found At Lander Health Clinic

SageWest Health Care

Patients of SageWest Health Care in Lander who had surgery between December 2013 and October 2016 could have been exposed to non-sterile surgical equipment.

The Department of Health investigated the hospital four different times over the past three years, after surgeons reported visibly contaminated surgical instruments that were supposed to be sterile.

Wyoming Department of Health spokeswoman Kim Deti said the Office of Healthcare Licensing and Surveys responded to these complaints, and then worked with SageWest to create a plan of correction. Deti said part of that plan includes informing certain patients and offering them free blood tests.

“We think the risk of infection is really quite low,” said Deti. “But, based on the review of the situation by our epidemiologist staff, the risk of exposure to blood borne pathogens, such as Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, and HIV, as well as surgical site infections just can’t be ruled out.”

Deti said the Public Health Division, which is currently addressing the situation, does not have a regulatory role, so they do not have the ability to apply pressure on SageWest if the hospital does not perform the recommendation. Right now, Deti said it is unknown how many patients could have come into contact with non-sterile instruments.

Maggie Mullen is Wyoming Public Radio's regional reporter with the Mountain West News Bureau. Her work has aired on NPR, Marketplace, Science Friday, and Here and Now. She was awarded a 2019 regional Edward R. Murrow Award for her story on the Black 14.
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