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California: Medical Center Says Surgical Scopes Might Not Have Been Properly Cleaned, Offers Free HIV and Hepatitis Tests

July 24, 2013

Officials at Natividad Medical Center in Salinas, Calif., reported that a routine safety audit revealed inconsistent documentation by staff of equipment disinfection during an 18-month period. Although staff might have properly cleaned the center's flexible endoscopes throughout this time period, the hospital lacked proper supporting documentation and, therefore, has opted to take extra precautions. Officials have notified 897 patients that they might have been exposed to infections during endoscopies of the colon, upper gastrointestinal tract, and lungs on the days under investigation. Additionally, the hospital has offered these patients free HIV, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C testing. So far, no one has tested positive for infection.

The hospital also reported the matter to state and federal health officials and has retrained staff in response to state direction. Chief Medical Officer Gary Gray commented that the risk of infection was very low. The hospital set up a call center to respond to patients' questions. Patients may call (831) 772-7899 Monday through Friday from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

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Excerpted from:
Monterey County Herald
07.19.2013; Virginia Hennessey

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