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Tainted Wipes Recalled After Colorado Hospital Discovery

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Surgical maskWhen you’re in the hospital, those little alcohol wipes seem to be everywhere. How disturbing it is to find these omnipresent tools for sterilization may be acting as a Trojan Horse for infection.

The discovery was made in The Children’s Hospital in Aurora, Colorado. Medical personnel became wary when a series of bloodstream infections amongst their younger patients turned out to be a rare germ, Bacillus cereus.

According to Bea Karnes, a reporter for News First 5, this discovery ultimately led to a massive recall of contaminated supplies across the country. The recall was voluntarily initiated by Triad, the manufacturer of the contaminated supplies:

Federal Food and Drug Administration officials credit the hospital with sparking an investigation that led to Triad’s voluntary recall of hundreds of millions of alcohol swabs, wipes and pads widely used in hospitals, clinics and homes.

Karnes describes the case of one patient infected by Triad’s contaminated wipes:

They [the victims] included Peyton Armstrong, 10, of Glenwood Springs, Colo., who developed a high fever and intense pain last October within 12 hours of placement of an IV line and a medical port to start chemotherapy treatment for leukemia.

‘He was on the brink of death,’ said Jessica Armstrong, 40, Peyton’s mother. ‘The cancer didn’t even matter at that point.’

Within weeks, hospital officials were stunned to confirm that Peyton’s infection — along with what [Dr. Christine] Nyquist would describe only as ‘a couple’ of others — was caused by contaminated alcohol wipes produced by the hospital’s sole supplier: the Triad Group of Hartland, Wis.

Dr. Christine Nyquist, the hospital’s medical director of infection prevention, noted that the hospital goes through an average of 2,500 alcohol wipes a day. Triad has many more horror stories being laid at their feet. Joe Postich, 55, of Madisonville, TN, had to have open heart surgery because of a Bacillus cereus infection. Harrison Kothari, 2, of Houston, had died from one.

Houston lawyer Jim Perdue, Jr., who represents Kothari’s family, notes that more than 100 people have now reported in with possibly related infections. Perdue expects to be representing the Armstrongs soon as well.

Matthew Heller, a writer for, reports on perhaps the most tragic incident in this situation, the death of a child:

Two lawsuits have been filed against Triad alleging that patients became infected with Bacillus cereus from the company’s products. In one of the cases, a lawsuit filed last month, the parents of a Houston toddler blamed Triad’s wipes for the child’s Dec. 1 death from acute bacterial meningitis.

Heller’s article also notes that the FDA’s internal inspection documents reveal issues with Triad’s sterilization process documented as early as 2009.

Image by meddygarnett, used under its Creative Commons license.


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