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Here's some weird medical drama: a prominent California hospital is refusing to halt surgeries, in spite of employees finding strange particles in the trays where they store operating equipment.

As the San Diego Union-Tribune reported this week, employees at the Kaiser Zion Medical Center in San Diego have been calling on hospital administrators to suspend surgeries after staff found strange, visible particles in their surgical trays.

"There are black/gray/brown particles of an unknown substance dusting the interiors of our surgical trays," surgical technician Elizabeth Haynes told the Union-Tribune, "in addition to black greasy smears of a known, but not surgically-approved substance."

While the contaminants are reportedly inside the trays rather than visibly on the equipment itself, staff were still — understandably — worried enough to sign a petition asking for a suspension of surgical activities until they figure out what's going on.

"Sterilization guidelines," Haynes reminded, "are that anything non-sterile (or) non-sterilizable found inside a surgical tray renders that tray contaminated."

In spite of this seemingly massive concern, however, administrators at Kaiser, a giant nationwide healthcare provider, are refusing to do more than investigate the matter, saying in a statement to employees that the newspaper reviewed that the hospital will "continue to schedule surgeries at Zion that can be safely performed."

"We have confirmed that all measures we are taking to clean, process and transport surgical equipment to our Zion Medical Center for use is safe and medically appropriate," the statement continued.

The healthcare system added that it is "currently cleaning and flushing the lines of this equipment to remove all residual particulates," but hospital staff aren't convinced.

According to Haynes, management told staff sterilizing the trays is enough because it would render the bizarre particles "inert and non-microbial" — an explanation she rejects because particles going inside surgical wounds could still be an issue on their own.

"The fact that a contaminant is ‘safe’ (not a microbe) doesn’t mean that contaminant is [not] implantable," the technician told the Union-Tribune.

As of June 8, Kaiser management has continued to refuse to pause surgeries, telling the local CBS broadcaster that it is "confident" nothing has come of the contamination.

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