According to officials at a North Carolina hospital, approximately 160 patients may have been exposed to possible personal injuries through illness due to surgical instruments not being properly sterilized, creating the possibility of staph infection.

According to officials at Cape Fear Valley Medical Center, the chances are low and no infections have been reported so far.

According to chief medical officer Dr. Eugene Wright, surgical instruments used on patients at the hospital from October 5-7 were cleaned, disinfected, and packaged, but were not properly sterilized with steam. He said that the instruments were believed to be free of blood borne diseases such as HIV or Hepatitis B or C.

According to Dr. Chuck Chima, physician adviser to infection control for the hospital, steam sterilization is the third step in the process of disinfection and instruments could be contaminated by bacteria from the hands of employees without it.

The symptoms of staph infection include redness, swelling, pain, and warmth at the surgical site in addition to fever and drainage from that same area, swollen glands, and a red streak from the point of infection.

According to Chima, bacteria can cause regular staph infections, but not Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA), a form of staph infection that is potentially deadly.

According to Wright, the problem was discovered on October 6 when a technician noticed an instrument package that hadn’t been steamed. There are chemical indicators on each package to indicate exposure to steam.

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