Hospital sterilization issue ‘basically resolved,’ says minister

The NWT’s health minister says a months-long equipment sterilization issue is all but solved as joint surgeries resumed at Yellowknife’s Stanton Territorial Hospital.

The territorial government first reported in July that all three of the hospital’s surgical instrument sterilization devices were malfunctioning. Months later the problem had still not been solved, leading some surgeries to be postponed or cancelled.

In a tweet on Thursday afternoon, health minister Julie Green said the problem was “basically resolved” and 156 surgeries had been completed since December 16. 


A separately posted update from the territory’s health authority stated “surgical capacity is steady and all surgeries that are possible at this time are being completed.”

Joint surgeries resumed on January 11. Those surgeries were the most disrupted by the malfunctioning sterilization equipment, as the issue particularly affected larger surgical instruments used in those procedures.

Equipment entered into the devices came out with wet patches or with rust-coloured marks, both of which led to concern that the supposedly clean instruments could develop bacteria if stored for any length of time.


Since the issue was first identified, the authority says a total of 620 surgeries have been completed. Of the 124 surgeries that were cancelled, 15 have yet to be completed or rescheduled. Of those, eight involved joint replacements. 

“Stanton staff continues to contact all the patients who receive surgery,” the health authority’s update stated. “Of the patients who were reached, the results indicate that the majority of the respondents were happy with the care they received.”

The authority said one issue does remain: some staining to towels and linens. A solution has been devised but was delayed after a shipping error by a parts supplier.