Duke reaches settlement in hydraulic fluid cases


Nearly 4,000 patients were notified that they may have been exposed to used elevator hydraulic fluid during surgeries at /*Duke Health Raleigh*/ and /*Durham Regional Hospitals*/ in late 2004.

Several complained about digestive problems and chronic pain. Many told /*Eyewitness News*/ that they had to have corrective surgeries and other medical procedures following the possible exposure.

A law firm representing several patients released this statement:

"Henson & Fuerst and Duke University Health Systems have resolved and settled without resort to litigation all claims involving Henson & Fuerst clients against Duke University Health Systems and is constituent hospitals arising out of the Hydraulic Fluid incident which occurred in 2004. Specific terms are confidential based on mutual agreement by both parties."

With the terms of the settlement being kept confidential it's unclear how many patients settled and for what amount.

A federal investigation revealed that the mix-up occurred when an elevator repair company drained elevator oil into empty detergent barrels. The barrels were stored in a parking deck at Duke Health Raleigh Hospital.

Some containers were picked up and delivered to hospitals as detergent used to wash surgical instruments.

While hospital staff rewashed some instruments that were reportedly "slick," the federal investigation includes comments from surgical room staff performing medical procedures with instruments that were slippery and difficult to hold on to.

Duke maintained that the risk of infection was very low and the risk of exposure was minimal.

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