June 16, 2004
North Shore University Hospital notified 177 patients that they may have been exposed to HIV or hepatitis C during gastrointestinal endoscopies performed between April 28 and May 10. The hospital recommended they be tested for the viruses. Hospital spokesperson Terry Lynam said doctors thought the transmission risk was "miniscule" but the letters were sent out last Wednesday as a precautionary measure. Of the 177 patients, 86 have undergone testing and none has tested positive for either virus, the hospital said. Hospital employees apparently cleaned the medical instruments used for upper endoscopies or colonoscopies manually but may have failed to check disinfectant levels in the water used for a machine cleaning between patients, said the hospital, adding that one of the workers has been fired and a second has been suspended without pay.