Entries in Surgeon (3)


Heart Surgeon Gives Patients Infection When Glove Rips

Jochen Sand/Thinkstock(LOS ANGELES) -- A heart surgeon at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center accidentally gave cardiac infections to five patients because his latex gloves tore during surgery, hospital officials confirmed.

Of the five patients who were diagnosed with endocarditis, or an infection of the heart chamber lining and valves, four of them had to return to the hospital for a second operation, according to a story first published in the Los Angeles Times. The patients survived and are still recovering.

“Because our ultimate goal is to have zero hospital acquired-infections, any hospital-acquired infection at Cedars-Sinai is unacceptable,” a hospital statement read.

“Endocarditis in general is a problem in that it describes an infection inside the heart, and when we have an infection inside the heart, bacteria from the infection is pumped all over,” said Dr. Mark Adelman, the chief of vascular surgery at NYU Langone  Medical Center. “It’s a particularly bad infection.”

Adelman, who has not been involved in the Cedars-Sinai case, said valve replacement infections can be especially problematic because the new valves are artificial and have no blood vessels to carry antibiotics to the infection.

“Usually the valve has to be removed,” he said. “Artificial materials don’t have blood vessels running through them, so there are little cracks and crevices that don’t see much blood flow. They’re difficult to sterilize.”

According to the National Institutes of Health, endocarditis can require a second valve replacement surgery when the infection results in heart failure, results in other organ damage or when blood clots break off into little pieces to cause strokes. Complications can include brain abscesses as well.

Cedars-Sinai called the incident a “very unusual occurrence,” according to the Los Angeles Times. Administrators told the newspaper that the nature of valve replacement surgery can lead to microscopic rips in the surgeon’s gloves because he has to tie more than 100 knots and use thick sutures, both of which put extra stress on the gloves.

“It’s just like tying your shoes a thousand times; it wears a lot on your fingers,” Adelman said, adding that heart surgeons have to sew the heart muscle with strong knots and sutures because the heart is an organ that is constantly moving. “The gloves definitely degrade. They have to be thick enough that they protect from transmitting infections, but then you have to feel tissues.”

Although surgeons will sometimes wear double gloves, it’s not mandated and can sometimes make the surgery more difficult because thick gloves don’t allow surgeons’ fingers to be as sensitive or as nimble, Adelman said.

He said he’s been asked why surgeons scrub their hands if they’re going to wear gloves. The answer is twofold: Surgeons scrub their hands and wear gloves to protect the patient, but they wear the gloves to protect themselves. It’s possible that a patient could spread a disease to a surgeon, too.

The California Department of Public Health has an open investigation at Cedars-Sinai, department spokesman Ralph Montano said. Because the department’s investigation is ongoing, Montano could not elaborate on the details.

Hospitals nationwide reported 529,038 surgical site infections to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2010.

News of the endocarditis infections comes less than a month after Cedars-Sinai announced that it reduced surgical site infections by more than 60 percent for colorectal procedures because of new protocols.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Plastic Surgeon Allegedly Posted Nude Photos of Clients with Names

Comstock/Thinkstock(ST. LOUIS) -- Six women in St. Louis have filed a lawsuit against a plastic surgeon who allegedly posted nude photos online of their torsos before and after surgery with their names attached to the images. The women say this was done without their consent or knowledge.

The before-and-after photos appeared in Google images if the women's names were searched or if the doctor's name was searched, according Neil Bruntrager, the attorney representing all of the women. He said that if a viewer hovered the cursor over the image, the woman's name would appear below the photo.

"Some of these women have public positions -- lawyers, teachers, CPAs -- all kinds of people who would be searched," Bruntrager said. "They were horrified. Every one of them has said, 'I'm embarrassed. I'm humiliated.'"

"All of the actions of Defendant, Dr. Koo, were careless and reckless and performed in complete disregard of the law and the rights of the plaintiff," Bruntrager wrote in the lawsuit. All of the women are identified only as Jane Doe in the lawsuit to protect their privacy.

Koo is being charged with invasion of privacy, including counts of unreasonable publicity, breach of fiduciary duty and wrongful commercial appropriation and exploitation of plaintiff's image and medical information.

"I am very sorry that this internet problem occurred," Koo wrote in a statement. "I have apologized personally to the patients involved. I sincerely regret that the protective mechanisms supposedly set up by the web host failed and allowed this problem to occur."

She said the patients gave permisson for unidentifiable before-and-after photos to be posted on the website and that the appearance of the names was unintentional and due to a technical issue.

Forensic investigators are working to track the images and make sure they are not saved anywhere.

Bruntrager wrote in the lawsuit that his clients "suffered shame, humiliation, embarrassment, anxiety, nervousness, loss of sleep and interference with her enjoyment of life, all of which will continue into the future."

The clients are seeking monetary damages from Koo, but no court dates have been scheduled yet.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Transplant Surgeons Change Practices after Rare HIV Transmission

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Surgeons changed their surgical practices after reports of a rare, high-profile case of HIV and hepatitis-C transmission through organ transplant surfaced, reports MedPage Today.  In 2007, four organ recipients contracted both HIV and hepatitis-C from a single high-risk donor despite negative antibody tests done before the procedures.

Researchers surveyed more than 400 transplant surgeons and found that nearly one-third of surgeons changed their procedures for fear of legal or regulatory consequences, said the report published in Archives of Surgery.  The most common change was the avoidance altogether of high-risk donors, rather than instituting better ways of detecting viruses before transplant.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio