Hospital worker exposes babies to swine flu

July 6, 2009 9:05:56 PM PDT
A Cape Fear Valley Medical Center spokeswoman said the babies that were possibly exposed to swine flu would not receive antiviral drugs, although an employee has tested positive for the illness.Over the weekend a staff member in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit came down with swine flu-like symptoms.

"My understanding is that she tested positive and the other employees at that point were asked to take the prophylactic medication, the anti-viral drug," Chief Medical Officer Dr. Steve Taylor said.

Doctors said they don't believe the babies were exposed to the staff member who came down with swine flu. So, they decided not to give the babies the anti-viral drug.

"You know there is a risk and a benefit to be gained by any medication," Dr. Taylor said. "We felt that the risk was actually higher than the benefit to be gained. So basically it was to decided to observe only."

But in an e-mail sent to Eyewitness News from a nurse who works in the unit, expressed concerns that parents of the babies weren't notified about the incident.

Dr. Taylor said the hospital wouldn't notify parents if a staff member came down with a regular case of the flu.

"Now, if we had made a decision to give the babies the anti-viral drug, certainly all the parents would have been brought in on that decision making process," Taylor said.

Hospital officials said they are telling the staff to wash their hands as much as possible, get checked by a doctor if you have symptoms and to stay home until fully recovered.


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