UF Health Jacksonville was identified Sunday night by “60 Minutes” (video appears at bottom of this story) as among hospitals where some surgeons said they were provided defective MicroCool surgical gowns that the manufacturer, Halyard Health, knew were dangerously flawed, during the recent Ebola crisis.
Surgical gowns are supposed to be impermeable so blood and other body fluids containing dangerous viruses cannot soak through to the skin of the doctor or nurse.
However, Bernard Vezeau, who is the company’s former global strategic marketing director for MicroCool, in an on-camera interview told correspondent Anderson Cooper that the surgical gowns at UF Health Jacksonville and elsewhere were defective.
UF Health surgeons said they repeatedly experienced “strike-through,” with blood getting through their gowns and onto their skin. Some surgeons were so upset about it they took pictures of their bloody arms and gowns and sent them to the company. Frequent complaints from surgeons and nurses also included sleeves and ties falling off the gowns, Cooper reported during the segment on the CBS-TV newsmagazine.
Chris Lowery, the chief operating officer of Halyard, denied Vezeau’s accusations in an on-camera interview with Anderson. Lowery said the allegations were completely false. The company also issued a statement saying it stands behind the safety and efficacy of its MicroCool gowns.
Vezeau told “60 Minutes” that he and others told the company’s senior management about the problems with the faulty gowns. He also said that at one point, Lowery stated that nobody cared about surgical gowns.
Lowery in his interview said that Halyard didn’t sell protective equipment for Ebola that it knew was defective.
“We get less than one complaint for every million gowns sold. And even more so, is we’ve never received even one report of a health care professional contracting an infection as a result of a flaw in our product,” Lowery told Cooper.
The gowns are the focus of a $500 million class-action lawsuit filed by a California doctor in 2014.
Halyard Health, formerly part of Kimberly-Clark, is an independent medical technology company headquartered in Alpharetta, Ga. The company operates 11 global manufacturing facilities with 12,000 employees worldwide — generating approximately $1.7 billion in net revenues, according to its website.
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Teresa Stepzinski: (904) 359-4075