When patients consider undergoing any kind of medical procedure or surgery in New York or anywhere else, they may have questions and concerns over the potential risks and complications that can occur. And while many patients accept the fact that they may experience pain and/or a secondary infection following surgery, few would likely agree to be exposed to a serious disease. Unfortunately for numerous surgery patients at one hospital, they must now contend with the possibility of contracting a neurological disorder as a result of serious medical errors.
It is estimated that Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD) is diagnosed in one out of 1 million people around the world each year. The neurological disorder does not currently have a cure and can be contagious. That is why protocols are recommended by the World Health Organization and U. S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on how to properly dispose of and/or sterilize medical equipment used on patients diagnosed with CJD.
Following surgery in January of this year, a patient at a North Carolina hospital was diagnosed with CJD. The hospital’s failure to diagnose the contagious disease sooner meant that the surgical instruments used on the patient were not disinfected according to protocol. Consequently, 18 other surgery patients may have been exposed to the neurological disorder through contaminated equipment.
The hospital has apparently recognized the serious mistake and informed the patients of the contamination incident. According to the hospital, it is unlikely that any of the patients that were exposed to CJD will actually contract the disorder. Even so, the risk is real and any fears on the part and patients and their families are valid.
Source: CNN, “Hospital to 18 patients: You may have been exposed to incurable disease,” Val Willingham, Feb. 10, 2014