As if there weren’t enough risks accompanying neurosurgery, 18 patients at a North Carolina hospital may have been exposed to a fatal disease from improperly sterilized surgical instruments.
According to a preliminary investigation, the disease may be Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, which is a type of brain disease that is rare and fatal. The source of the infection may have been a patient who reportedly was displaying symptoms of the disease.
Despite the patient’s visible warning signs — the disease is characterized by rapidly increasing dementia — the instruments used on that patient were not thoroughly sterilized before they were used on the other patients. As a result, the patient’s infection may have been spread to 18 other patients in subsequent surgeries.
Unfortunately, this is not the only recent example of this infection. In 2013, 15 patients at a New Hampshire facility may have been exposed to the disease, as well as five patients in a Massachusetts hospital.
It may seem hard to believe that a surgical error in our modern day and age could result from contaminated surgical instruments. Even worse, that negligent approach to cleaning and sterilization persisted in this story through 18 subsequent operations.
Infections caused by negligence in surgery are hard to forgive because they were preventable, in many cases. The patients in this story are facing even greater tragedy because of the fatal nature of the disease. With the help of an experienced surgical error lawyer, they may be able to achieve some sense of justice through a medical malpractice lawsuit.
Source: Modern Healthcare, “18 patients exposed to fatal brain disorder at N.C. hospital,” Sbriya Rice, Feb. 11, 2014