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Duke Health settles claims from elevator-fluid lawsuit

The system and the patients' lawyers would not disclose details of how they closed the case that began after surgical instruments at two hospitals were washed in used hydraulic fluid from an elevator in 2004.

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Surgical Instruments
DURHAM, N.C. — Duke University Health System has settled claims by patients who alleged they suffered health problems after being exposed to hydraulic fluid on surgical instruments at two Duke hospitals in 2004.

The confidential settlement resolved claims against Duke by an unknown number of clients.

Meanwhile, dozens of patients exposed to the hydraulic fluid at Durham Regional and Duke Raleigh hospitals have sued the companies that contracted with Duke to sterilize the equipment.

The lawsuit said the plaintiffs were patients of Durham Regional or Duke Raleigh hospitals in late 2004, when more than 3,600 patients were operated on with instruments mistakenly cleaned with used hydraulic fluid.

The fluid had been drained from an elevator, but sent back to the hospitals for use as detergent.

Duke and HensonFuerst, the law firm representing the patients, released the following statement Thursday:

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

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