COLUMBIA (WACH) - Amidst a string of concerning allegations, the Dorn VA Medical Center also had to close down their operating room back in October when particles were found in their filtration system.
"On October 18th, 2013, supply technicians who were stocking the OR in the morning noticed some particles on supplies stored in the central core of the operating room suite." says Ruth Mustard, the associate director for Dorn patient care and nursing services.
Three surgeries were in progress at the time these particles were discovered.
Those surgeries were completed but the remaining surgery cases were rescheduled.
"We did contact our patients. We let them know what was going on and we also reached out to community providers to ask them for support to make sure our urgent cases could be sent out in the community to ensure that there was no delay in care." states David Omura from Dorn Medical Center.
At the same time, Dorn examined where the particles had come from and whether the particles had caused any infections in previous operating room patients.
"Six cases were identified with surgical infections, but no correlation was found between the six cases and the presence of what was determined this particulate matter was HEPA filter debris and this was from a disintegrated filter." Mustard explains.
In particular, the heating coils from the filtration system were identified as being the cause of the debris.
To fix the problem, Dorn replaced the filters, which they report is already part of their regular maintenance.
They also cut more access points into the filtration system so they can continue to monitor the system and clean it more thoroughly in the future.
As to why there was ever a problem with the filter to begin with, the jury is still out on that one.
"We've done our due diligence on some fact finding and spoken with the manufacturer. We've spoken with the original designer of the system and it just seems to be an anomoly that we can't fully address right now." concludes James Cook, Dorn assistant chief engineer.
So in addition to continuously monitoring the filtration system, Dorn has also done air testing to ensure the air is free from any kind of particles or debris.
The operating room is scheduled to reopen and be fully operational on December 2nd of this year.