Former Member of Duke's Patient Advocacy Board Hires Personal Injury Attorneys Brent Adams & Associates after Undergoing Surgery with Hydraulic Fluid-tainted Instruments

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A former member of Duke's Patient Advocacy Board has left Duke Medical Center after what she feels to be Duke’s insincerity and inaction concerning the Hydraulic Fluid incident. Carol Svec, who is also a former patient of Duke, has recruited the assistance of Brent Adams & Associates, a law firm that specializes in personal injury and medical malpractice. They will be handling her lawsuit against the North Carolina hospital, as well as the suits of many other former patients who underwent surgery with tainted instruments.

What worries me is that some patients will take this and put it in a box and not worry, when in fact the worst worries are yet to come.

In the midst of the cloud surrounding Duke University Hospital in which thousands of patients underwent surgery with instruments bathed in hydraulic fluid, a former patient of Duke University Medical Center has hired personal injury law firm, Brent Adams & Associates, to pursue a claim against the North Carolina hospital. That in itself is not altogether unique; Brent Adams & Associates currently represents several patients who had undergone surgery at the Duke University Hospital after its instruments had been washed in hydraulic fluid.

What does make it an exceptional situation is that the former patient, Carol Svec, is also a former member of Duke’s Patient Advocacy Board, a board specifically created to deal with the highly negative perception of Duke during the immediate months after the story broke. Yet because Svec felt that Duke’s efforts were not sincere, she resigned her position with Duke in order to personally help the patients who had been treated with the hydraulic fluid-tainted instruments.

Late last year, elevator workers at Duke University Hospital had drained hydraulic fluid into empty soap containers, but failed to change the labels. As a result of their alleged negligence, the surgical instruments that were used on approximately 3,800 patients had been soaked in elevator hydraulic fluid instead of soap.

Many patients feel Duke has been reticent and evasive about the possibility of complications further down the line, as well as too slow to respond to the public’s questions, said Brent Adams & Associates. While Duke has stated that there is no chance of infection, they did not address patients' fears that the mistake led to an increased threat of contracting auto-immune or other noninfectious disorders.

Svec states that she ultimately decided to resign her position when she learned that when Duke contacted Exxon, the maker of the hydraulic fluid, to obtain the makeup of the fluid, Duke never informed Exxon that patients may have been exposed to it. Exxon therefore did not treat the request as urgent and took months to respond, she said.

It is part and parcel with what Svec considers Duke’s failure to acknowledge the danger posed to patients. "The fact is people are sick; people are hurting," she said. "We know that there was hydraulic fluid on those instruments…but now [Duke is] trying to backtrack off of that by saying, 'Look at this teeny, tiny bit that was on there.' It's not right. Right now, I don't think Duke is acknowledging that patients are sick," Svec said.

Svec underwent surgery for a rotator cuff tear at Duke in November of 2004. A relatively minor procedure with generally little or no side effects, it has nevertheless resulted in frequent headaches and some swelling, according to Svec. Now, she is concerned not only for her own future health, but also for the health of the thousands of other patients, many of whom she fears will forget about the incident too quickly. "What worries me is that some patients will take this and put it in a box and not worry, when in fact the worst worries are yet to come."

Therefore, Svec created her own patient support group. The support group, registered at HydraulicFluidPatients.com, is a resource for patients to help deal with the emotional and legal aspects of the situation. Brent Adams & Associates, the medical malpractice lawyers of North Carolina who are assisting Svec and others pursue a personal injury lawsuit, are assisting Svec with setting up her newly formed support group.

Brent Adams & Associates is a North Carolina law firm comprised of Personal Injury Lawyers who practice law in many different fields, including Nursing Home Neglect, Social Security Disability, Workers Compensation, Auto Accident, Medical Malpractice, Product Liability, and others. http://www.NCpersonalinjurylaw.com

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Erin Stroud
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