Healy Scanlon Law Firm

The dangers of contaminated equipment to Illinois patients


Hospitals in Chicago, Illinois, should be wary about the latest controversy associated with the fatal degenerative disease called Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD). This rare illness might develop after patients are exposed to contaminated surgical instruments. CJD is caused by a rare type of protein that can remain on surgical equipment and endure standard sterilization procedures.

Unfortunately, a total of 4719 patients were involved in possible exposure to CJD over the past 14 years and some of the recent are the 18 patients at Forsyth Medical Center. Forsyth Medical Center informed the public about the disease, saying that patient's exposure stemmed from possibly contaminated equipment. The surgical apparatus was used to perform an operation on a patient that was later diagnosed with CJD. The potential exposure lasted from January 18 to February 6.

Reportedly, there were seven hospitals that had incidents of patients' exposure to CJD in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in all seven incidents, patients were exposed after the hospital failed to perform enhanced sterilization procedures on the surgical equipment used on a patient with CJD.

Due to this, the Joint Commission, a non-profit organization that certifies hospitals in the United States, including those in Illinois, recommended disinfecting or disposing of instruments used in patients that have been suspected of carrying or diagnosed with CJD. Experts noted that the hospital should take extra caution in such matters and never risk other patients' safety.

Patient's exposure due to contaminated surgical equipment is simply unacceptable. Such adverse events could have been prevented if the hospital used adequate measures without risking patient safety.

However, there may be a legal remedy available, like a Chicago medical malpractice lawsuit, for Illinois patients involved in this kind of situation. Filing a lawsuit may not only hold the negligent parties accountable, it may also serve to remind hospitals that patient safety should be their number one priority.

Source: Winston-Salem Journal, "Lawsuits common after discovery of brain disease mishap," Richard Craver, Feb. 16, 2014

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