On Monday, Novant Health Forsyth Medical Center in North Carolina announced that some patients who underwent surgery at the hospital might be at a very slight risk of developing a rare brain disease.
The hospital admitted that surgical tools used on 18 patients had previously been used on a patient with the rare brain disease Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD). The tools had not been adequately sterilized after they had been used on the patient with the rare brain disease. While the patients were potentially exposed to the rare brain disease, the chance that any were actually infected remains very small, Reuters notes.
Surgical tools used on the patient with CJD should have been subjected to specialized sterilization procedures. Instead, the tools only underwent standard sterilization processes.
CJD is a degenerative and fatal disorder. People who suffer from the rare brain disease experience memory failure, seizures and can lapse into comas. CJD has a lengthy incubation period, meaning that an infected person may not show symptoms of the rare brain disease for years after contracting it. The rare brain disease claims the lives of 90% of those infected within one year. There is no effective treatment for CJD.
At a news conference, the president of the hospital apologized to those exposed to the rare brain disease and their families.