Five patients at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center became infected after a heart surgeon operated with an inflammation on his hands

Five heart patients at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center contracted staph infections after a doctor operated on them with bacteria on his hands, the hospital said this week.

The doctor, whom the hospital declined to name, had an inflammation on his hand when he implanted replacement heart valves into five patients last June.

He wore gloves, but they developed microscopic tears, the hospital said, causing the infection to pass to patients.

All five became infected with the staphylococcus epidermidis bacteria, the hospital said.

"We have apologized to the patients involved, worked diligently to answer any questions they have, and provided appropriate follow-up, support and monitoring," a spokesman for the hospital said in a statement Sunday.

The physician involved remains on the hospital's medical staff, but is no longer performing surgeries, the hospital said.

Hospital officials are refusing to release any more information about the case, or to provide historical details on infections at the storied medical center.