Six patients have been confirmed with infections following joint replacement surgery at Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital (Black Press file)

Elective joint-replacement surgeries on hold at Trail hospital

Infection has postponed 37 related surgeries, a review is underway

TRAIL — Joint-replacement surgeries at Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital (KBRH) are on hold after six patients were confirmed with infections postoperatively.

“Surgical infections can result from a wide range of factors,” Jane Cusden, Kootenay Boundary acute health services administrator, said Friday.

Factors can be specific to the patients themselves, or related to pre-surgical or post-operative care.

“So we are looking for additional information that might indicate why we had this little blip in the places that we have,” she explained.

With ski season and the likelihood of icy roads and sidewalks nearing, Cusden confirmed that emergency surgeries will not be affected — the focus is purely the elective total hip and knee joint replacement procedures.

No specific strain of bacteria has been isolated in all six patients.

The services review began Monday, affecting 37 patients previously scheduled for joint replacement surgery in December.

“We’ve actually postponed 37 patients until the end of the month, because we like to give people a little bit of advanced notice,” Cusden said. “It’s very disappointing for them, so we are really sorry for the impact on our patients. But we really want to ensure we are providing safe quality care, and that’s a priority for us.”

Five orthopedic surgeons work out of KBRH, and perform between 275 and 325 joint replacements each year.

Those surgeons are postponing elective total hip and knee replacements while the review is underway.

“Interior Health really regrets the impact to patients whose surgeries have been postponed,” Cusden said.

“And we are going to re-book these patients as a priority once the service review (is completed).”

In a statement released Friday, Interior Health (IH) said it has already been examining recent infection cases as well as the OR processes and the OR environment at the Trail hospital.

The review will provide additional expert feedback and guidance, given recent infections in total joint replacement cases have not been attributed to one specific cause.

IH stated, “It will be comprehensive, covering all aspects of these joint replacement surgical processes – from pre-surgical screening all the way through to post-operative care – as well as the OR environment, measured against current standards and best practices. “

Other surgeries are proceeding as normal and OR time previously dedicated for joints is being used for other patients awaiting surgery.

Once the review winds up, Cusden said findings will be advanced to a local steering group, the Kootenay Boundary Quality Assurance Committee, the surgical department, IH leadership and other expertise within the organization.

Recommendations and concerns will be addressed following those discussions.

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