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Attorneys Receive Sample Of Hydraulic Fluid Used To Wash Surgical Tools

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DURHAM, N.C. — Attorneys are now getting their chance to test elevator hydraulic fluid at the center of a medical mix-up involving two hospitals affiliated with Duke University Health System.

On Friday, Duke Health handed over a sample of the fluid that hospital employees accidentally used to wash surgical tools used on approximately 3,800 patients last fall.

Because the fluid was accidentally used to wash the surgical tools, attorneys want to conduct an independent study for their clients, who say they have suffered side effects from their surgeries.

"Our initial testing will be a chemical analysis," said attorney Kurt Dixon. "That is our first priority right now, to see what was in that fluid.

Despite the mix-up, Duke insists the surgical tools were sterile and believes that exposure to patients does not pose a health risk.

The attorneys expect to have some test results back in a few weeks.

Earlier this week, Duke Health implied that Exxon Mobil, the company that manufactures the hydraulic fluid, hindered its investigation by taking months to hand over the fluid's ingredients. Exxon said Duke only reported that employees had skin contact and never let them know about the seriousness of the situation.

All the chemical information is now available to any patient who requests it.