Dirty surgical tools causing deadly infections


Imagine that you go in for a routine surgery with a 6 day projected recovery time. You go into surgery, come out, go home, and think everything is okay. A day later you wake up and your surgical site is red and swollen. Hours later it’s oozing pus and by the time you get taken to the ER you’re feverish and delirious. A series of surgeries follow, all in an attempt to cure you of a deadly infection introduced to your body through contaminated surgical tools.


This is the nightmare that many patients face after going through “simple” surgeries. Throughout the past few weeks, I have been working with Today Show producer Kerri Zimmer on various aspects of the piece. I’m amazed at just how much footage (and hard hard work) goes into making a 5 minute piece, which is considered a longer piece for the Today Show. To make this, Kerri flew to Virginia to interview Sharon Green-Golden, the head of the sterile processing unit at Bon Secours Mary Immaculate Hospital in Virginia, Michigan to interview clinical engineer Jahan Azizi at the University of Michigan, and Texas to find John Harrison, the victim of a surgical site infection due to dirty instruments.

Through watching all the hours and hours of tapes that were carefully screened for the right sound bites and B-Roll (background video of people doing things like working, cleaning tools, walking around, doing their routine while the story is being narrated), I got to learn more than I ever thought I would about sterile processing. Everything needs to be washed, sterilized, and repackaged. This process is getting even harder as medical tools are getting fancier and fancier aka harder to wash. The FDA currently isn’t doing anything to regulate the sterilization process, but more and more doctors, patients, and sterilizing specialists are trying to get certification statuses for this profession.

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