Patients lose trust at U.S.hospital after hydraulic fluid incident

Officials at Duke Health Raleigh Hospital has sent letters this week to about 4,000 patients whose surgeons unknowingly used instruments washed in hydraulic fluid.

In the letters the hospital says that an independent expert found the tools used in the surgery to be sterile, despite the incident.

According to Duke officials as yet the exact chemicals to which patients may have been exposed is unknown as they are still waiting for analysis on the fluid to be completed.

In the meantime, Duke is offering patients the advice of doctors at its Environmental Health Center at Research Triangle Park.

Lawyers representing some of the patients say this is a bad idea, as they suspect the hospital is attempting to defend itself in any litigation that could arise from the instrument mistake.

One patient, Carol Svec, says she does not have full range of motion of her left arm seven months after surgery on her rotator cuff at Duke Health Raleigh Hospital, and is reluctant to see Duke's doctors.

She does not feel that there is a level of trust there right now.

The hospital had advised her to arrive early for the consultation, because there would be a lot of paperwork to fill out, and she was uncomfortable with the idea of signing more forms for the Duke hospital.

Attorney Brent Adams who is representing seven patients, says they should not be deterred from remedies because they've signed forms, but they shouldn't sign any more forms.

Adams has advised them and others not to go to Duke for treatment for any symptoms they believe may be related to the possible exposure to hydraulic fluid, and says it is important for patients to go to their own doctor, not doctors on the Duke payroll to assess their situation.

Meanwhile, attorneys representing patients have filed a subpoena to make Duke release samples of the fluid, so they can do their own analysis.

Duke originally was going to fight the subpoena, but now have agreed to hand over samples.

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