After Surgical Mix-Up, 18 Fear Rare Brain Disease
NC hospital failed to properly sterilize tools
By Rob Quinn, Newser Staff
Posted Feb 11, 2014 1:22 AM CST
Updated Feb 11, 2014 3:27 AM CST
Novant, the hospital's parent company, says it has brought in changes in procedures after the error.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – Some 18 neurosurgical patients in North Carolina have been given the terrifying news that they may have been exposed to a rare and fatal brain disease because of a surgical mix-up. A patient with suspected Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease —a condition similar to "mad cow" disease—was operated on at the Forsyth Medical Center in Winston-Salem last month and the tools were not sufficiently sanitized before they were used on the other 18 patients, reports Reuters.

Tools used on CJD patients are supposed to either go through enhanced sterilization procedures or be destroyed, but the hospital only used a standard sterilization process. The disease's incubation period can last years, but most patients die within a few months of showing symptoms. Only around 300 cases occur in the US every year. The hospital has apologized for the "devastating news" the patients have received but it stresses that the chance of infection is very low, with only four confirmed cases of CJD transmission through surgical instruments on record and none since 1976, the Winston-Salem Journal reports.

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Showing 3 of 32 comments
sat5360
Feb 15, 2014 8:41 AM CST
being a crcst-cis tech for twenty yrs. you cannot sterilize these instruments properly you must throw them away.hospitals are to cheap when it comes to the instruments an place added danger on future patients.you can be infected a not show any problems for twenty years or more .most hospitals do not track instruments an your lucky if they still have any record after ten years
BarackMustGo
Feb 12, 2014 6:06 AM CST
A chilling view into the darker shades of Obamacare, to come. You get what the socialist government forces you to pay for, under the guise and lies of their way being better.
TomFlores
Feb 11, 2014 9:27 PM CST
Dear Patient enclosed is your bill for your recent surgery please pay promptly Thank you PS there was a small error by a member of our staff and you may have been exposed to Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease. For a better understanding please contact your medical provider. Also We would like to thank you for choosing us for you Surgical needs and do not forget we offer as full range of medical service.