Colorado hospital failed to properly clean vaginal ultrasound probes: state report

Colorado hospital failed to properly clean vaginal ultrasound probes: state report

par Thomas Dworetzky, Contributing Reporter | August 16, 2016
Infection Control Risk Management Ultrasound
There has been a potentially dangerous lack of proper disinfection of vaginal ultrasound probes at Memorial Hospital in Colorado Springs, according to a May 2016 state health department investigation.

And according to a whistleblower, now suing the facility over what she claims was a retaliatory firing, the allegedly faulty procedure had been in place for four years.

“Based on observations, interviews, and document review, the facility failed to maintain appropriate infection control processes in the areas of cleaning/disinfection of vaginal ultrasound probes, surgical instruments and procedure rooms,” according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment report, which noted that “These failures created the potential for patients to be at risk for health care-acquired infections.”

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Officials from the hospital responded in the official report, stating that “through our surveillance process in infection prevention, no infections have been found that could be attributed to the process deficiencies that were noted during your survey. With that said, we are always looking for opportunities to improve our processes, and in particular, infection prevention.”

The health department began its investigation in April, after former hospital ultrasound technician Mary Elizabeth Falcone lost her job following, she has claimed in a lawsuit, her complaint about the faulty disinfection procedures, which did not conform to the manufacturer's guidelines.

Her just-filed suit against the hospital's operator, University of Colorado Health, in El Paso County District Court brought the state's investigation to life early this week, according to The Denver Post.

In her lawsuit she and her lawyer, Gary Kramer, claimed that her termination broke a 2007 state law protecting workers in the health field when they reveal health patient safety concerns.

"Falcone made multiple good faith reports and disclosures regarding potential threats to patient safety due to improper and/or inconsistent performance and documentation of HLD [high level disinfection] of vaginal ultrasound probes at UCH-MHS," their filing alleged, according to the Colorado Springs Independent.

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