Medical-safety advocates in New York are watching after five patients who were patients at a Cape Cod medical facility might have been exposed to a deadly brain disease. Their operations were conducted using the same medical equipment that was possibly contaminated, according to information provided by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health on Sept. 5. In addition, eight patients in New Hampshire were also possibly exposed to the contaminated equipment.
The brain disease, known as Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, afflicts less than 400 people annually in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control reported that the illness is always fatal; it is diagnosed after death through an autopsy. Although one variant of CJD is known as "mad cow disease," this strain is different. An autopsy is pending to confirm the cause of death of the original patient.
The patient who died underwent brain surgery at a medical facility in New Hampshire. Normal sterilization procedures aren't effective against the proteins that cause CJD, and the World Health Organization explained that a chemical should be used as a disinfectant to kill the proteins.
The risk of infection for the patients was very low because they underwent spinal cord surgery as opposed to brain surgery in July and August. All of the patients were told of the possibility and were being closely watched. Hospital personnel and the public were not in danger, according to the news release.
When a hospital is negligent in basic medical practices, such as the proper disinfecting of medical equipment, patients who suffer additional serious medical issues might choose to file a lawsuit. A personal injury attorney might be able to help clients pursue financial compensation to cover any additional medical costs.
Source: CNN, "Fatal brain disease potentially affects five people in Massachusetts", Julia Lull, September 06, 2013