03/14/2012 05:07 EDT | Updated 05/14/2012 05:12 EDT

Halifax hospital birth unit used non-sterile tools

A Halifax hospital is contacting a group of new parents after realizing non-sterilized equipment was used in several births this month.

The IWK Health Centre, which provides pediatric and obstetric care in the Maritimes, identified seven sets of birth-related equipment that were cleaned and decontaminated, but not sterilized as usual.

It's possible that seven women who gave birth during a six-day period received care with the non-sterilized equipment, the IWK said in a release.

There is little chance of any illness, the hospital said, because the equipment — such as scissors and clamps — were cleaned and decontaminated.

"We have multiple processes, of course, and safeguards, but there was obviously a problem with the process, said Jocelyn Vine, vice-president of patient care.

"So one of the first things we will do is go back in great detail to look at the processes in both sterile supply area and within our birth unit, review those, and ensure that any improvements that are needed occur quickly."

The hospital is notifying all 64 women who were admitted to the birth unit during the period in question, but because of low risk of exposure, it said, no testing, treatment or immunization should be required.

It will be a couple of weeks before the hospital is able to know how the problem occurred, Vine said.