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story.lead_photo.caption NWA Democrat-Gazette/DAVID GOTTSCHALK - The parking garage on the campus of the Veterans Health Care System of the Ozarks in Fayetteville Friday, July 10, 2015.

FAYETTEVILLE -- The Veterans Health System of the Ozarks didn't follow updated cleaning standards for instruments used in eye surgery, the center confirmed in a statement Tuesday afternoon.

"At this point, the main impact to patients is that some appointments had to be canceled and rescheduled," the statement said.

Patients of the Veterans Health System of the Ozarks with questions may call (479) 444-5047.

The error was discovered Sept. 25 and an ongoing check of patients who might have been affected shows no increase in the rate of infection. The statement also said the staff is taking further precautions and determining how long the outdated standards were in use.

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The Fayetteville center has requested both the National Sterile Processing Officer for the federal Department of Veterans Affairs and the department's Infectious Disease Office review its case records and procedures.

A team from those two offices will come to the medical center the week of Oct. 23 to review new procedures in place, similar procedures for other surgical instruments and compliance with those procedures, the statement said.

"On September 25, 2017, a routine program inspection found that eye instrumentation had not been processed following the manufacturers correct instructions for use," the statement said. "Immediately, the facility implemented a pause in operations to implement standard operating procedures and rescheduled future appointments in accordance with manufacturer instructions."

The hospital rewrote its standard operating procedures in light of the latest guidelines and trained staff in those procedures, the statement said.

No patients with an infection stemming from surgery has been found by the medical center's staff or its eye surgeon, the statement said. No spikes or unusual trends in infections have been found pointing to any potential harm to patients, the statement said.

A follow-up check of records is also in progress by a panel of experts from the medical center, the statement said.

The Ozarks system holds a five-star rating, the agency's highest. David Shulkin, U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs, toured the hospital in June.

The system serves more than 54,000 veterans, according to Shulkin. It operates six community clinics at various locations in Arkansas, Missouri and Oklahoma in addition to the medical center in Fayetteville.

NW News on 10/05/2017

Print Headline: VA: Cleaning standards lapsed for instruments

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