Quality Assurance of Surgical Instruments Workshop
3rd August 2012
As part of the 2012/2013 Education and Training Programme, the first of a two day workshop on quality assurance of surgical instruments was held on 29th June. The fully subscribed event was presented by Tom Brophy from St Bartholomew’s Hospital.
Tom explained the range of European standards that were applicable in this highly regulated area. He revealed that despite the many regulations in place the quality of some new surgical instruments gave cause for concern. He continued to explain that the transport of instruments in inadequately sized containers highlighted external factors affecting instrument quality and the ensuing financial cost, instruments returned unfit for use required to be purchased again. He described a range of failure modes with surgical instruments that presented a significant risk to patient safety. Examples included rusting instruments, instruments that shattered in use leaving metal fragments in patients and instruments that failed during use such as artery forceps that did not clamp. His most serious example involved cardiac surgery surgical instruments where a new ventricular vent, which during use is inserted into the heart, was found to have significant burrs, the identification of this prior to use was crucial to ensuring services were safe for every patient every time.