Duke University Health System, Durham, N.C., said it mailed letters to 3,800 patients at its Durham Regional and Duke Health Raleigh hospitals about its plans to offer long-term monitoring of the patients' conditions after they were exposed to surgical instruments accidentally rinsed in hydraulic fluid before being sterilized. The hydraulic fluid, which is similar in color and consistency to the detergent used at the hospitals, had been poured into empty detergent drums and picked up by supplier Cardinal Health, which then restocked and redelivered the drums. Duke encouraged patients to call a hotline number or authorize their physician to report any effects that may be a result of the exposure. The system will examine the information and inform patients about any signs of increased risk from the exposure, the letter said. Duke also created a Web site, hydraulicfluidfacts.dukehealth.org to keep patients informed. -- by Vince Galloro
Duke arranges mass patient follow-up after incident
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