News / Edmonton

Patient safety at risk if $93M in sterilization upgrades aren’t approved: AHS

The health agency says Albertans can be confident in the sterilization measures it has in place

After a review, Accreditation Canada found non-compliance in some areas regarding the province's sterilization equipment.

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After a review, Accreditation Canada found non-compliance in some areas regarding the province's sterilization equipment.

Alberta Health Services requires more than $93 million to upgrade the province’s sterile medical equipment and, if funds aren’t approved, the health agency worries for patient and staff safety. 

On Tuesday, the Wildrose released a document through freedom of information that found some of the province’s medical reprocessing sites are in dire need of care. 

For example, the Foothills Medical Centre in Calgary and the Red Deer Regional Hospital require $27.5 million and $26.3 million in funds to upgrade medical devices that reprocess equipment. 

The equipment makes a contaminated reusable medical device ready for its next intended use.

“MDR is an essential service, supporting patient safety, and directly impacts the prevention of transmission of infections from reusable medical devices used in the delivery of health care,” AHS said in the document, which hasn’t yet been made public. 

If funds aren’t approved, the document warned services may be delayed or cancelled if the equipment becomes obsolete. 

“The most critical risks of non-approval are patient and staff safety, with the threat of infection transmissions being increasingly more likely,” the document read. 

Accreditation Canada, which reviews medical device reprocessing services every four years, found some areas of “non-compliance” with the sterilization equipment. 

In an email, an AHS spokesman said Albertans can be confident in the measures the health agency has in place to protect them from the infections acquired while in hospital. 

“There are certainly always areas where improvement is possible or required and we use the valuable information from internal and external reviews of MDR services to inform, prioritize and address issues,” the spokesman said. 

AHS has identified medical device reprocessing and provincial sterile instrument as one of 21 high priority projects in AHS’s 2016 Capital Submission. 

AHS has also completed reviews of 115 sites earlier this year. Each of these sites is currently working to address inconsistencies.

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