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Supplier says it received hydraulic fluid from hospital

Updated:
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) _ The soap supplier that unknowingly sent hydraulic fluid instead of detergent to four North Carolina hospitals got the barrels from Duke University, a spokesman for the soap supplier said Thursday.

Empty soap barrels had been refilled with hydraulic fluid by elevator workers at Duke University and then resealed, Duke spokesman Jeff Molter said. A Duke hospital administrator had the barrels returned to Cardinal, thinking that they contained detergent.

The Dublin, Ohio-based medical supply company redistributed them to four hospitals, including three in the Duke University hospital system, Cardinal Health spokesman Jim Mazzola said.

For two months late last year, surgeons at Duke Health Raleigh Hospital and Durham Regional Hospital unknowingly used instruments on nearly 4,000 patients that had been washed with hydraulic fluid instead of soap.

A barrel sent to Duke University Hospital never was opened, Molter said.

Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem announced this week that it, too, had received drums of hydraulic fluid. The mistake was caught there when two loads of surgical equipment came out of a washer feeling greasy. No patients at Wake were operated on with instruments washed in the fluid, spokesman Mark Wright said.

No other hospitals received the barrels, Mazzola said. When Cardinal realized what had happened, the hospitals were notified and the barrels were picked up.

Duke University sent letters to patients this week, saying there's no risk of infection from the hydraulic fluid.
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