New court filings claim history of sterilization problems at local hospital

Two new court filings claim Baptist Health Paducah has a history of problems in the sterilization unit. Those filings are part of Dr. Ted Jefferson’s defense.

He’s facing disorderly conduct and terroristic threatening charges, both are misdemeanors. The new documents come in response to County Attorney Jamey Mills’ request for discovery.

The first of those two new filings summarizes Jefferson’s expert testimony regarding what he says is the importance of properly sterilizing surgical equipment:

"A 60 percent rate of visibly corrupt surgical trays for a single physician in a single day represents a catastrophic failure of Baptist Health Paducah’s central sterilization unit. Such a failure requires immediate attention to avoid exposing patients to further risk of harm."

Jefferson’s attorney, Bard Brian, says Jefferson is the doctor who received those corrupt trays on Jan. 26. He says the 60 percent means three out of five trays. According to the filing, Jefferson will also say as a physician he has an ethical and moral duty to attend to his patients.

The second filing submitted to the court is a slide show presentation. Brian says the staff at Baptist Health Paducah put together a presentation called "Building a Foundation." It was done four years ago, and Brian says it shows the hospital’s history of problems with decontamination and sterilization.

In the presentation, it says: "Staffing was short and hurried to try to meet the demand of the department." It also mentions a problem with "cramped space, untrained new employees and a fast turnover of employees."

It goes on to say: "Because of the shortage of caskets, instruments and sets are being wrapped," which is an "infection and safety issue for patients."

Another porter of the slide show says, "instrument sets are overweight." The author of the presentation says that causes concern for staff safety and goes against sterilization guidelines.

Brian won’t say how he got a copy of the slide show, pictures and the notes that go along with it, but if a judge decides this evidence is admissible in court, Brian says he will reveal who gave it to him.

"It’s sort of a technical report, but you don’t have to be a doctor to understand what’s going on in the report," says Brian. "It’s plain that Baptist Health Paducah has a systematic and serious issue with their central sterilization unit."

WPSD reached out to the McCracken County Attorney’s Office and Jamey Mills, who’s overseeing the case, for reaction to the filings. We were told Mills is attending a conference and won’t get a chance to review the paperwork until Monday. However, an office worker confirmed that his office did in fact receive the filings and they’re on Mills’ desk.

WPSD also reached out to Baptist Health Paducah, who sent us this statement:

"This filing is another example of Ted Jefferson’s reckless and inexcusable behavior – the same reckless behavior that landed him in criminal court, facing serious charges of threatening to bring an assault rifle into our hospital, a place of healing."

Jefferson’s attorney will be back in court on Tuesday for a continued pretrial hearing. Trial is set for May 13 in McCracken County District Court.

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