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Snyderman defends Hospital

In a memo sent Monday to Duke Hospital staff, Health System Chief Executive Officer Dr. Ralph Snyderman defended the Hospital's role in the Feb. 7 transplantation of a heart and lungs of the incorrect blood type into 17-year-old Jesica Santillan, an error that eventually cost the girl her life and attracted international attention to Duke.

"In my view, the institution has been open, honest, and forthright. It immediately focused on determining the root cause of the error and in treating the patient and the family in the most appropriate and compassionate way," Snyderman wrote. "I have never been more proud to be a part of the Duke University Medical Center family than I am right now."

The error will spur the Hospital to improve patient safety and to focus greater attention on medical errors, Snyderman continued. "Our overall record is outstanding," he wrote. "We commit that [Jesica's] memory will serve as a strong ongoing force to further strengthen systems that ensure patient safety at Duke and throughout our nation."

Jesica's ordeal has also gained the attention of University leadership. "On behalf of everyone at Duke University, I want to express our deep sorrow at the death of Jesica Santillan," wrote President Nan Keohane in a statement Monday. "We have kept vigil with them during these past dark days, and our thoughts and prayers are with them now."

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