December 2001 AAOS Report

State of Minnesota temporarily halts elective knee surgery

On Nov. 18, the Minnesota Health Department asked all hospitals and surgery centers to suspend all elective knee surgeries in the state for one week following the recent deaths of three patients. Two men died on Nov. 11 after having surgery at St. Cloud Hospital. A third man died on Nov. 16, after having surgery at a different hospital. Two of the patients had knee replacement surgery and the other had a cartilage graft. Each had previously been healthy. One knee replacement was done at one hospital, the cartilage graft and other knee replacement performed at the second institution. Officials from the Minnesota Health Department suspected and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta confirmed that one of the patients was infected with a rare bacterium, Clostridium sordelli. The CDC sent an alert to hospitals nationwide telling them to watch for other cases. Minnesota orthopaedic surgeons resumed knee operations Nov. 26, but investigations will continue. The CDC asks that orthopaedic surgeons who are aware of any surgical patients who have died unexpectedly to contact the "Epidemiology Section, Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion, CDC at (800) 893-0485 or (404) 639-3311 (24 hours a day).

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