Health & Medicine
11:49 pm
Mon March 17, 2014

Shortage of Chemical Used to Sterilize Surgical Equipment

Syracuse-area hospitals say they’re facing a shortage of a crucial sterilization product that could delay surgeries.   There appears to be a major disruption in the supply chain of a biologic known as Sterrad biologic indicator made by Advanced Sterilization Products, which is used to sterilize surgical equipment and tools. 

Vials of the biologic that sterilizes surgical equipment.
Credit Scott Willis / WAER News
The hospitals alerted Senator Chuck Schumer of the problem.   
Sen. Chuck Schumer says the shortage began a few months ago.

Schumer stopped by SUNY Upstate Medical University Monday to call attention to the matter and demand more accountability from the manufacturer and the FDA. 

Sen. Schumer says the shortage of this chemical seems to be part of a larger, growing trend that has to be avoided.

Hospital officials say they’ve never been completely without the chemical, and haven’t cut corners.  But they have had to scramble and call other hospitals to see if they could share.  Chief medical officer at Upstate Dr. Anthony Weiss says the problem stems from having just one supplier.  

Upstate University Hospital Chief Medical Officer Dr. Anthony Weiss and Sen. Chuck Schumer
Credit Scott Willis / WAER News

He  says the concern isn’t for routine surgeries, but more about being prepared in case of a larger incident requiring multiple surgeries.   Upstate is the primary trauma center for a 17 county area, so the need and risk are much higher.  The company has not been forthcoming to hospitals or the FDA.