March 14, 2011
Ten surgery patients of Lawrence Hospital Center (LHC) in Bronxville are being notified of the need to get tested for HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C due to improperly cleaned equipment.
The state Department of Health said the hospital reported that nine surgical trays were found to have been improperly sterilized after they had been used during procedures. They had, however, been cleaned and disinfected.
Letters are being mailed to the 10 patients at risk for blood-borne infections. The hospital will perform the screenings at no cost.
LHC characterized the situation as an "isolated incident." On Thursday, spokesperson Alisa Holland said hospital officials were unavailable to confirm how the contamination occurred or what actions have been taken to correct it.
The notice marks the second time in less than one month that an area health care facility has warned of possible exposure to blood-borne diseases. In February, more than 200 patients of the state-run Rockland Psychiatric Center were told they needed to get tested following a case of hepatitis B transmitted through a lancing device to collect blood samples.
Linda R. Greene, who serves on the board of the Association for Professionals in Infection Control, said hospitals and other facilities have become very vigilant about cleanliness. "I don't think that we are getting more careless," she said. "I think that we have become more aware of the risk of transmission posed by blood-borne pathogens."
"In order to do due diligence, we really have to notify patients and make them aware of potential exposure," said Greene.