COLUMBIA, SC — Columbia’s veterans hospital on Thursday stopped all operating room procedures for the second time in recent weeks because of contamination from particulate matter coming from the air circulation system.
Operations were resumed Monday at Dorn Medical Center after the rooms were shuttered earlier. But they were closed again on Thursday after the problem returned, according to spokesman Kevin McIver.
Below is the text of a news release from McIver:
The Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) goal is to provide the best quality health care for our Veterans and to be transparent with all who entrust us to provide their care.
On Dec. 5, 2013, Wm. Jennings Bryan Dorn (Dorn VAMC) leadership temporarily paused operating room (OR) services after staff discovered particulate matter. The pause was directed to protect patients and staff, while providing time to investigate the cause and take corrective action.
What initially appears to be another mechanical breakdown of the OR air handling system, the OR pause follows a previous event nearly two months ago when particulate matter was first identified on Oct. 18 by an employee who noticed particles on supplies.
At that time, Dorn VAMC leadership directed a temporary pause in OR services. The cause of the particles was identified as debris from two High-efficiency particulate absorption or HEPA filters that had disintegrated. After cleaning the OR suite, replacing the filters, and conducting testing that confirmed no hazards existed, the decision was made to resume OR services on Dec. 2.
Thirteen procedures were successfully completed on Dec. 2, ten on Dec. 3, and 17 on Dec. 4 – with no debris identified. On Dec. 5, seven cases were scheduled for the day. One case in progress was completed and the remaining six cases were cancelled upon identification of the debris. Five of those cases were considered urgent and were sent to community partners or another VA Medical Center. General surgery cases will be also referred or rescheduled once OR services resume.
Our sincerest apologies go out to our Veterans and their families. We are doing our utmost to investigate the cause of the incident and take the proper corrective action for the care of our Veterans is our number one priority.
Updates will be made released as new information is made available.