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Tainted Wipes Spread Deadly Infections In US Hospitals

Tainted Wipes Spread Deadly Infections In US Hospitals

When you go to a hospital to be treated for an illness, you don’t expect to be given a worse one.

But that’s exactly what has been happening to some people who have been treated with supposedly sterilizing wipes manufactured by Triad. At a Colorado Children’s Hospital late last year, a 10-year-old boy with leukemia was being fitted with a medical port for the delivery of chemotherapy drugs when he fell victim to an all-encompassing bacterial infection that nearly killed him. 

Months afterwards, his family was told the bacteria, Bacillus cereus, was introduced to the boy’s system in the hospital via the use of Trius sterilizing alcohol wipes. The hosiptal was using over 2,500 of these wipes a day and was seeing an alarming increase in infections of the unusual bacteria before determining that the wipes were the cause.

The discovery of the contamination and subsequent notification of the FDA has led to a series of recalls of not only the sterile wipes, but of other products manufactured at the Triad plants, including lubricating jelly manufactured as far back as 2007.  

The recalls are so widespread, in fact, that any medical product you may use on a regular basis or even have acquired in the last several years should be inspected to determine if it contains any of these Triad products.

What is more troubling, however, is that the FDA had found serious violations of process at the plant where the wipes were manufactured up to 18 months prior to the wipes being recalled – and did nothing about it. 

“Procedures designed to prevent microbiological contamination of drug products purporting to be sterile are not followed,” said the FDA inspection report as early as July 2009. But there’s no record of the company being warned about their infractions, and no record of the lapses being fixed. 

The FDA is defending their actions, stating there was no indication of any danger prior to the reports from the Colorado hospital of contaminated wipes. However, the obvious question remains that if products that are intended to be used in a sterile environment are not beng made sterile, how can there be no problem?

Hundreds of infections resulting from the use of the sterile wipes have been recorded since the recall, including the case of a man who is now permanently disabled after contracting a Bacillus cereus infection, as well as that of a two-year-old boy who died of meningitis after contracting the same infection.

If you have any Triad products in your home, or if you see Triad products being used in your healthcare facility, stop using them immediately and consult the recall list prior to proceeding. Better to be safe than sorry.

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Photo credit: Centers for Disease Control's Public Health Image Library (PHIL), with identification number #1059.

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42 comments

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4:39PM PDT on Apr 10, 2011

Something needs to be done to make our hospitals safer. When I went in for surgery a few years ago, it took me 2 weeks to recover from surgery and an additional 6 weeks to recover from an infection received from my hospital stay!

8:15AM PST on Mar 12, 2011

All UK hospitals are rife with "hospital aquired infections" such as MRSA & other "super bugs". Nurses are just too busy to do much cleaning & the domestics employed to do it are bound by rediculous rules.E.G. Domestics are not permitted to clean up any human bodily fluids which means spillages of blood, vomit, faeces & urine are left for the nurses because of these stupid "health & safety" rules. Nurses do not have the time to go & get the right cleaning products & usually end up giving the spillage a quick wipe up. Disease is the consequence.

10:13AM PST on Mar 11, 2011

thats gross.. and sad. i think that hospitals need to use new whipes everytime.

11:23PM PST on Mar 10, 2011

Bottom line: If you get sick, do not go to a hospital!! Escecially the ER.

7:02PM PST on Mar 10, 2011

I thought it was weird because Bacillus cereus is usually food-borne pathogen.

4:43PM PST on Mar 10, 2011

That explains why there were no Walgreens brand wipes when I replenished my stock this week. How the hell are we supposed to learn of these recalls?

Thank you Olivia S for listing affected brands.

4:01PM PST on Mar 10, 2011

You would expect that doctors, nurses and all other hospital personnel to get sick ... and die. Is there any record that in the last decade this has been the case? I would be interested to learn whether infections due to MRSA and othe bacteria/ viruses are on the rise in hospitals and clinics.

12:49PM PST on Mar 10, 2011

As someone mentioned, the FDA is big pharma's baby. Nothing new there. I find it rionic that the FDA will walk through broken glass to spit on alternative treatments in the US, but can't even get their own constituencies in compliance.

8:23AM PST on Mar 10, 2011

In this instance, isn't it possible to sue the FDA for not doing anything about it since, as the article states, things meant to be sterile weren't and that much was obvious? Just a thought...

2:14AM PST on Mar 10, 2011

Is nothing safe anymore?

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