Hospital officials said at a press conference yesterday that the prong was broken on the machine used during the procedures. They refused to release the names of either of the women who died.

One woman, who died Friday, was in her 70s and in poor health.

“The Jan. 11 patient’s death, while extremely unfortunate, did not originally appear to be out of the ordinary,” said Dr. Charles Riordan, a vice president of medical affairs for the nonprofit Roman Catholic hospital.

After the second woman — who was in her 60s and in better health — died during the same procedure Tuesday, hospital officials opened an investigation into the matter and discovered the broken prong.

The company that made the machine, Precision Medical Inc., of Northhampton, Pa., did not return calls yesterday.

The hospital has notified the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which regulates medical devices, and the state health department, which sent investigators to the hospital Tuesday.

Health department officials would not say how they might discipline the hospital. The investigation is expected to take several days.

The hospital did not identify the employees involved in the procedure, but officials said no disciplinary action is anticipated.

–James Collins and The Associated Press