NEWTON, Mass. (WBZ/CNN) - A cancer patient near Boston was told he would have to wait for his badly needed surgery. The reason was a shortage of surgical gowns, which is affecting hospitals across the nation.
The man was diagnosed with stage 3 pancreatic cancer on Jan. 7.
Then at the family's first oncology appointment at Newton-Wellesley Hospital, they say the receptionist told them there might be a two-week delay on a procedure to install a chemotherapy port because of an impending recall on a popular brand of sterile gowns worn by surgeons.
The Food and Drug Administration asked providers to stop using a specific Cardinal Health gown because of "quality issues identified at a contract manufacturer's facility."
Cardinal Health says that at this time it cannot guarantee the product is sterile.
The potential for a procedural delay came as a shock to the patient’s family, who was already struggling with a difficult diagnosis.
The family, who did not want to be identified, said they pushed the hospital for a faster procedure and were successful. He had a chemo port installed on Jan. 15.
It was a huge relief to the family, but it was the lack of information about that product hold and a potential delay that frustrated them.
“That's not something you would ever anticipate or think about. It's not a very transparent process to the end user, the customer,” said the patient’s son-in-law.
Partners Healthcare, the nonprofit that runs Newton-Wellesley, said in a letter:
The family considers themselves lucky.
In other parts of the country, like western Pennsylvania, hospitals canceled and rescheduled elective, non-emergency surgeries because of this issue.
There’s no word yet on when the problem will be resolved.