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Mission Hospital halts elective surgeries after patient infections

Hospital halts surgeries
Mission Hospital in Mission Viejo has halted all elected procedures after a cluster of patient infections.
(Mission Hospital )

One of Orange County’s largest hospitals has halted all elective surgeries after its accreditation came under review following an outbreak of surgical infections.

Mission Hospital performs about 7,000 surgeries a year, of which nearly 70% are elective.

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FOR THE RECORD

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An earlier version of this post said the Joint Commission had denied Mission Hospital’s accreditation. The oversight agency issued a preliminary denial of accreditation to the hospital.

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Last week, the Joint Commission conducted an onsite survey at the hospital following reports that four patients who underwent orthopedic surgery had developed infections. 

The accrediting body determined that there was an “immediate threat to health or safety to patients or the public,” and issued a preliminary denial of accreditation, Katie Looze, the commission’s spokeswoman, said in an email.

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The Joint Commission, which certifies agencies for Medicare and Medicaid funding, said the decision is subject to review and appeal before the determination to deny accreditation.

Last Thursday, the hospital voluntarily chose to postpone all elective surgeries at both its Mission Viejo and Laguna Beach locations out of an “abundance of caution,” said James Keany, the hospital’s associate director of emergency services. 

The hospital, an acute care facility that houses one of the county’s few trauma centers, will continue to perform emergency procedures.

“At no point do we feel there was a threat to patient safety, that is why we will continue to perform emergency surgeries,” Keany said.  

In June, four patients developed the same surgical site infection after undergoing various orthopedic procedures in the same operating room, Keany said. The hospital activated a review process to determine whether there was a breach in protocol.

“Surgical infections are extremely rare,” Keany said. “When we saw the cluster we stood up and took notice. We stabbed every corner and every crevice.”

No infections were found in the room in question. The Joint Commission found high temperatures and humidity in some of the hospital’s 14 operation rooms, Keany said.   

A new heating and cooling system was already in place, he said, adding that the hospital will resume elective surgeries when it can “absolutely ensure patient safety.” 

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