Duke University Health sued over dirty surgical instruments

A group of 18 patients who had operations at Duke University Health System hospitals in 2004 have sued the institution, which exposed the patients to surgical instruments that were mistakenly washed in elevator hydraulic fluid. The suit, which charges the institution with fraud and negligence, asks for an unspecified dollar amount in compensatory and punitive damages. Duke has already settled claims with more than 60 other patients who claimed they had been injured by the hydraulic fluid. This new group of patients claim they have suffered injuries and pain following varied surgeries. They also contend that Duke committed fraud by concealing some facts and misrepresenting others in ways that made it harder for patients and their physicians to deal with the effects of the injuries.

The plaintiffs are only a small fraction of the 3,600 patients of Durham Regional or Duke Raleigh who were operated on with the unsanitary tools in late 2004. The tools became tainted due to a series of errors in which repairmen drained elevator fluid into empty detergent drums that were mistakenly shipped back to the hospitals as washing fluid.

To learn more about the case:
- read this article from The News & Observer

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