Duke hoping to avoid lawsuit rush

A new study suggests that while patients aren't suffering noticeable after-effects, many continue to believe their health problems were caused by a series of incidents at Duke University hospitals where they were exposed to wrongly-cleaned surgical tools. Now, Duke execs hope to slide under the statute of limitations for filing lawsuits, which comes in a few months.

In 2004, 3,648 patients were exposed to tools cleaned in used hydraulic fluid, with surgeries taking place at two Duke hospitals, Duke Raleigh and Durham Regional. The incident took place when an elevator company put the fluid in a container used to carry detergent for cleaning surgical instruments. To date, only one patient has sued, but nobody knows whether a flood of others are hoping to file in time.

To buttress its reputation, Duke has publicized a $1 million independent study which found 90 percent of patients exposed had no higher rates of clinical problems for two years after the incident.

To learn more about the study:
- read this Associated Press article

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