Cedars-Sinai surgeon infects five surgery patients with infected hands

Thursday, December 20, 2012 by: Ethan A. Huff, staff writer
Tags: surgeon, hospital, superbug infections

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(NaturalNews) At least five patients undergoing heart valve replacement surgery at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, a non-profit hospital in Los Angeles, California, got more than they bargained for recently when a heart surgeon infected them with a potentially deadly human skin bacteria. According to reports, the unidentified surgeon developed microscopic tears in his latex gloves while operating, which allowed Staphylococcus epidermidis bacteria from his inflamed hands to pass through and infect the patients, all of whom had to have second surgeries as a result.

The surgeon responsible, who is said to still be working at the hospital but no longer performing surgeries, had some sort of infection on his hands that, under normal circumstances, would have been blocked from transmission by his surgical gloves. But because valve replacement surgeries are unusually intense, involving the insertion of thick sutures and the tying of more than 100 small knots, his gloves apparently became compromised in each of the five cases, leading to what the hospital later referred to as a "very unusual occurrence."

Once the outbreak was discovered, Cedars-Sinai, the county and state health departments, and even the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) were called on to initiate an investigation. Once the cause of infection was determined, each of the affected patients was eventually brought back in for a second surgery. However, none of the patients died as a result of infection, and all five are said to be recovering, according to hospital officials.

"We have apologized to the patients involved, worked diligently to answer any questions they have, and provided appropriate follow-up, support and monitoring," said a Cedars-Sinai spokesman in a recent statement.

Hospital-acquired infections kill at least 100,000 patients every year in U.S., and likely far more

Staphylococcus epidermidis
exists naturally on everyone's skin, and is considered to be a normal part of the human flora balance, which exists both on the inside and outside of the human body. But it is also one of the most common causes of hospital-acquired infections, which according to the latest statistics, take the lives of nearly 100,000 hospital patients every single year. (

Hospital "superbugs" alone, which are infections spawned by the overuse of antibiotic drugs, account for nearly 50,000 patient deaths in the U.S. every year, according to a 2010 study published in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine. The two most contracted hospital superbugs in this estimate are sepsis, which is a systemic inflammatory condition that can lead to organ failure and death, and pneumonia. (

The group Committee to Reduce Infection Deaths (CRID); however, actually believes the number of hospital-acquired infections and deaths today is likely far higher than the official numbers, which are more than 10 years old. The number of infections by methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) alone shot up by an astounding 440 percent in the years between 1993 and 2007, which suggests that hospital infection and death rates are far higher than the official numbers from 2002.

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