Weekly watchdog 2/23/12

Surgical Safety

It’s a fact of human nature that stories that turn people’s stomachs are sometimes necessary to fix problems. Our report this week on dirty surgical instruments fits the bill – and points up a major hygiene problem in America’s operating rooms.

It’s hard enough to go under the knife for routine surgical procedures. It’s another matter entirely to contract a life-threatening infection due to poorly cleaned instruments. Yet that’s what is happening at hospitals around the country as some common modern surgical tools prove difficult – or impossible – to sterilize. Another problem: Workers responsible for cleaning these instruments often toil in hospital basements earning minimum wage.

It’s an important story and we partnered with the Today show to help make hospitals and the public aware of the danger.


Until next week,



William E. Buzenberg
Executive Director

Filthy instruments plague operating rooms
Poorly sterilized surgical instruments – some containing bone, tissue and blood residue – are in regular use in American operating rooms. The filthy tools have led to life-threatening patient infections. Modern surgical instruments are small, specialized and complex, with moving parts, tiny holes, and long narrow channels running the length of the implements. And they are difficult to clean. Steam sterilization melts and destroys some modern devices. Instruments made of materials like rubber may not heat all the way through, as many metals do, creating sterilization challenges. Watch the Today show segment based on our investigation here.

Casino king provides 84 percent pro-Gingrich PAC money
Casino tycoon Sheldon Adelson and his family have pumped $11 million into the pro-Newt Gingrich super PAC Winning Our Future, about 84 percent of the $13.1 million the group has raised so far.

Pro-Romney super PAC adds $6.6 million to coffers
The super PAC Restore Our Future that has played a pivotal role in keeping Mitt Romney's presidential campaign going raised an impressive $6.6 million in January, bumping its total haul to $36.8 million since its founding last year.

Center wins award for mortgage fraud coverage
The Center for Public Integrity has been named a 2012 winner by the Society of Business Writers and Editors for our coverage of mortgage fraud at Countrywide, GE, Washington Mutual and other banks.

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