Surgery center admits error in cleaning colonoscopy equipment - FOX 10 News |

Atlanta surgery center admits error in cleaning colonoscopy equipment

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A local outpatient surgery center admits that it failed to protect its patients from potentially deadly diseases.

Dr. Leigh Hamby, the chief medical officer at Piedmont Healthcare, said that letters were sent to more than 456 Piedmont West Surgery Center patients in Atlanta informing them they are may be at risk for a number of diseases because of problems with cleaning the scopes used in colonoscopies.

Hamby said that there are multiple steps used in cleaning the scopes uses in colonoscopies, involving detergents and enzyme solution and high-level disinfectant. Last week, it was discovered the last step was missed, according to Hamby.

"One of our physicians asked the staff, 'how do you clean these instruments?' It was through that process, they identified that we weren't using the high-level disinfectant," Hamby said.


Piedmont Statement Regarding Sterilization Procedures

April 30, 2013 – A recent assessment of the cleaning process on scopes used in colonoscopies at the Piedmont West Surgery Center determined that recommended guidelines had not been followed.

While the Surgery Center staff has been diligent in cleaning the equipment with enzymatic soap after every use, the recommended final step of soaking the equipment in a high-level disinfectant did not occur. We sincerely regret and apologize for this situation and have taken the necessary steps to ensure this does not happen again.

As a result, we have contacted 456 patients who received colonoscopies at the facility, and voluntarily reported these findings and the actions we have taken to rectify it to the Georgia Department of Public Health.

Our research indicates that the risk of transmission is less than one in 1 million (lower than .000001 percent chance) and as of today, no patient has reported problems. However, we believe the right approach is to be overly cautious. We have offered testing for hepatitis B, hepatitis C and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) as well as physician counseling at no cost to the patients who are impacted.

We continue to hold patient care, patient safety and patient rights as our top priorities. We are committed to maintaining the patient trust Piedmont has earned over the past 107 years, and will continue to focus on improving the care and treatment we provide.


A 41-year-old man who got a colonoscopy at the surgery center more than a year ago said that he received the letter, which said he's at risk for Hepatitis B, C, and HIV after a foul-up with cleaning of scopes used in colonoscopies.

"It's just sickening to think that something – that that device was used in someone else, that it wasn't cleaned properly and used on me," the man said.

Hamby said that the odds of a patient contracting HIV, Hepatitis B or C are very small.

"Far less than one in a million chance that a patient would actually get one of these diseases as a result of this procedure," Hamby said.

Hamby said that the problems were traced back to 2011 through this month and are limited to Piedmont West Surgery Center, located at 1800 Howell Mill Road.

Dr. Hamby also said that the patients that received letters were of part of a pool of 17,000 patients that got colonoscopies during the time period involved.

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