A crucial part of ensuring the health, safety and well-being of New York hospital patients is preventing the spread of bacteria and other microbes. Secondary infections and other medical issues can arise in unclean environments, and the spread of diseases between patients and medical professionals can occur when standard precautions are not followed. By failing to properly disinfect and/or dispose of surgical equipment, one health center might have exposed numerous patients to a serious disease and may be confronted by medical malpractice claims as a result.
Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD) is a neurological disorder that only occurs in approximately one out of 1 million people across the entire globe each year. Despite its rarity, the disease is contagious and can be spread through contact with contaminated surgical devices. That is why the World Health Organization and the U. S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention specifically outline how medical equipment should be cleaned and/or disposed of to prevent the spread of CJD.
Despite the fact that a protocol is in place to properly disinfect surgical equipment used on patients diagnosed with CJD, a North Carolina medical center reportedly exposed 18 surgery patients to the disease recently. According to the hospital, a neurosurgery patient was diagnosed as having CJD after undergoing an operation. Because that diagnosis was made after the operation was performed, the hospital did not sterilize the surgical equipment used during the procedure according to protocol. As a result, the 18 subsequent patients were exposed to and may have contracted the disease.
The president of the hospital did acknowledge the severity of the issue and apologized to the patients and their families. However, the hospital also claimed that it’s very unlikely that any of the patients will contract the disease.
Source: CNN, “Hospital to 18 patients: You may have been exposed to incurable disease,” Val Willingham, Feb. 10, 2014