According to The Los Angeles Times, 18 neurosurgery patients in North Carolina may have been exposed to an incurable brain disorder because instruments were not properly sterilized after an operation on someone who already had the disease.
Novant Health Forsyth Medical Center in Winston-Salem apologized for the incident, saying that “extra precautions should have been taken”, because there were reasons to suspect that the original patient had Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD), a fatal brain disorder. Although the instruments were sterilized, they were not subjected to extra measures that hospitals usually follow after surgery on someone who has or is suspected of having CJD.
This incident is not the first time this has happened at a hospital. In 2011, 17 patients in Georgia received CJD warnings from Emory University’s hospital after they did not follow proper precautions after surgery. After five years of legal battles, the hospital reached a confidential monetary settlement with the victims.
Between 200 and 300 Americans are affected by CJD every year, which can take several months or many years to develop. Testing for it is difficult, and once symptoms surface, a patient usually dies within 6 months. The disease affects a victim’s control over body movements, vision and memory.
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