Heart surgeon with skin inflammation infects five patients via microscopic tears in surgical gloves

01-25-2013
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A heart surgeon at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center unwittingly infected five patients during valve replacement surgeries due to microscopic tears in his surgical gloves, which allowed bacteria from a skin inflammation on his hands to be transmitted to their hearts. Four of the five afflicted patients required second operations to repair the damage from the infection according to an article in the Los Angeles Times.

While doctors with infections or open sores aren’t supposed to perform operations, there is no national standard regarding skin inflammations. Similarly, the medical community has not reached a consensus on surgical glove protocol, including what types of gloves should be used for a particular procedure or under what circumstances a surgeon should wear more than one pair of gloves at a time to ensure a higher level of protection. Valve replacement surgeries, for example, require thicker sutures and repeated knot tying, which can wear down or tear surgical gloves more easily than other types of procedures.

Medical infections cause 99,000 deaths in the United States every year. Although Cedars-Sinai maintains a lower than average rate of infection, Harry Sax, vice chairman of the hospital’s surgery department, states, “Any hospital-acquired infection is unacceptable.”

Have you suffered from a secondary infection brought on by your hospital, physician or healthcare provider? You may have a case for medical negligence. Contact Hodes Milman Liebeck at hmlm.com for more information.

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