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18 people reportedly exposed to incurable disease in N.C.

18 People Reportedly Exposed to Incurable Disease in N.C.

Eighteen people possibly exposed to a rare brain disease considered incurable and fatal - and it happened while they were being treated at a North Carolina hospital.


"Their surgeries were performed with instruments that were not properly sterilized, exposing them to a degenerative neurological disorder referred to as CJD." (Via KMBC)


Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease or CJD affects only one in every 1 million people worldwide and is fatal 100 percent of the time, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The surgeries took place at Novnt Health Forsyth Medical Center in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. (Via Center for Disease Control)


The medical tools used to treat a patient who was positive for CJD were used on other patients over the course of three weeks. Now, those instruments were sterilized by the usual hospital standards, but the CDC recommends tools exposed to CJD be destroyed.


Hospital officials in Winston-Salem say the likelihood of these 18 patients actually contracting the disease are low. (Via WXIN)


According to CNN, "no cases of the disease have been linked to the use of contaminated medical equipment since 1976."


Fox News adds in the United States, "there have been only four reported cases of transmission via surgical instruments."


Whatever the odds, some patients are still understandably upset over the apparent mistake.


"I'm angry, very very angry that something so little could cost me my life." (Via Fox News)


What's worse, the disease reportedly could take years to show itself in a patient, so answers won't necessarily come anytime soon.

Join the discussion

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wboozer@mail.com February 11 2014 at 1:11 PM

There simply is no excuse for disregarding this protocol by any hospital certified by the The Joint Commission, and their accreditation should be revoked!

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paddleman1928 February 11 2014 at 10:57 AM

before panic sets in-test the instruments to see if the organism is still present. If not the patients can rest easy.

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1 reply
Camp Bulldog paddleman1928 February 11 2014 at 11:15 AM

that was done

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Connie February 11 2014 at 11:05 AM

There are sterilization procedures set in place with biological indicators that show when a batch of instruments has reached appropriate temperature to kill pathogens. However, if anyone has taken a microbiology class here would know why a disease such as CJD cannot be sterilized and destroyed. It is a prion, and a horrible thing to contract.

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2 replies
brenhatestwinkie Connie February 11 2014 at 11:20 AM

that is a understatement!

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ginab605 Connie February 11 2014 at 11:25 AM

Connie, I have never seen the sterilization aparatus, but wouldn't it wash away any remaining debris, dead or alive? Eeeew. I wonder where the floating prions went.....

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mclaramc3 February 11 2014 at 2:41 PM

This should not have happened, every hospital is required to have a policy and procedure to manage these instruments. When hospitals are surveyed these policies are reviewed.
It is also part of the OR education with all staff.

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senjav February 11 2014 at 2:31 PM

when you are working ona patient who you KNOW has a transmissable and incurable disease, why not use DISPOSABLE instruments. Sure, other patients might manifest a similar disease AFTER the fact; but when you KNOW the status. disposables makes sense. THis was very very badly managed health care.

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2 replies
jt2 senjav February 11 2014 at 2:44 PM

As an RN who worked in the OR for years, just to let you know, there are many disposable items in the OR but most instruments are not . However, the management in that OR should have know the recommendation for disposal of all items used on a patient with this disease. Then if they were unwilling to destroy the items they could have asked the surgeon to arrange for surgery in a facility that would comply. I feel badly for the patients that were exposed. No one should leave the hospital in worse shape than they enter.

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jdhegnes senjav February 11 2014 at 4:17 PM

Because some instruments are not available as disposables, and are very expensive. Also, there is absolutely nothing that cannot be sterilized off an instrument. It is simply a matter of temperature, time and medium.

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1 reply
pamiss45 jdhegnes February 11 2014 at 7:43 PM

You should look up CJD on the CDC. It very adamantly states that there is NO STERILIZATION technique for this prion disease. The only thing that can be done, if you are doing surgery on a patient with CJD, is to destroy all instruments used.

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Janine February 11 2014 at 2:13 PM

this is unacceptable! Lost my Mother in law in 2009, Absolutely the worst. I feel for those exposed for the laziness of the professionals who absolutely should know better. Everything should have been destroyed! Thoughts and prayers to the patients and families who may be affected.

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sdph1 February 11 2014 at 2:04 PM

No surprise I got an infection in a hospital. Place to avoid at all costs short of life and death situation!

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mzkto February 11 2014 at 11:22 AM

Such DAMN NONSENSE that in today's savvy sense World, we have forgotten the basics....as in making sure instruments are properly sterilized!!! Come on....where do these employees and employers come from? Proper training in most fields is a thing of the past....we have strict guidelines for stupid CrAp and then something like this happens...who's to blame? Nobody, of course..

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1 reply
jea509 mzkto February 11 2014 at 11:38 AM

Management is to blame. It cost money and when you tell someone. They will be canned. It happened to me!

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Lillian February 11 2014 at 11:23 AM

This falls on the hospital, people that are in charge of these instruments and making sure they are completely steriled, doing there job instead of being in there cell phones texting and stealing company time. You find that in every job. Wake up and smell the coffee. The people that are being hired even with experience are screwing up. Big time.

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2 replies
jea509 Lillian February 11 2014 at 11:36 AM

The problem is it's not a disease that is looked for.

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MIKE Lillian February 11 2014 at 11:38 AM

Learn how to spell.

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1 reply
jea509 MIKE February 11 2014 at 11:53 AM

I might not be the best speller. But at least I know what to look for as in health!! Smart A**

Flag +2 rate up
d1anaw February 11 2014 at 10:55 AM

There is no excuse for this. Where is the joint commission and the medicare oversight? They are willing to blast other facilities for the smallest of infractions, but overlook something this serious? Are you kidding me?

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