Nearly 450 patients at Salem Hospital may have been exposed to hepatitis and HIV viruses over the past couple years due to improper reusing of medical equipment during endoscopy procedures, the hospital disclosed this week.
The Potential Exposures
The potential exposures occurred between June 2021 and April 2023 and affected a subset of endoscopy patients at the hospital, according to a statement from Mass General Brigham (MGB), the larger healthcare system that Salem Hospital is part of.
Endoscopies involve inserting a tube-like camera into the body to get images of specific tissues. The hospital said the potential virus exposure happened when intravenous medication was administered in a way that did not follow proper protocols.
A hospital spokesperson said a contracted worker who is no longer employed at Salem Hospital was responsible for the improper practice. Once hospital leaders were made aware of the deviations from best practices earlier this year, they immediately took action to correct them. In addition, you can also read an article on- What is Chroming – Health Impact And Strategies to Prevent!
Assessing the Risks
After consulting with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, the hospital determined the risk of actual infection is extremely low from this event. So far, there is no evidence that any patients have been infected due to the lapses in protocol.
Out of an abundance of caution, Salem Hospital has notified all potentially impacted patients and is offering free blood tests for hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and HIV. The hospital has also opened a hotline for patients to ask questions and get more information.
According to patients who called the hotline, the issue stemmed from reusing certain medical equipment on multiple patients when the items were intended for single-use only. Proper disinfection and sanitization protocols were not followed. Additionally, you can also read about- 20 Best Scientific Discoveries in 2023
Ensuring Proper Protocols
Healthcare facilities have strict standards to avoid spreading blood-borne illnesses between patients, including never reusing needles, syringes, or other equipment on more than one patient. Proper sanitization of medical tools before each use is also critical. Lapses in following these protocols can potentially expose patients to viruses like hepatitis and HIV.
Salem Hospital said the improper practice was immediately corrected once identified. The hospital is also conducting a review to ensure proper protocols are being strictly followed going forward.
You May Find Interest: Lingering Cold and Respiratory Virus Symptoms: A Hidden Epidemic?