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Around 450 patients at Massachusetts Hospital may exposed to HIV, hepatitis: Report

Around 450 patients at Salem Hospital in Massachusetts might have been exposed to HIV, hepatitis B, or hepatitis C as a result of incorrect IV medication administration, said a hospital spokesperson on Thursday. 

In an official statement, the hospital said that it was made aware of the possible exposures earlier this year, and the practice was immediately corrected. This included the patients who came here for endoscopy, according to a report published by NBC News. 

Following this, the hospital issued an apology statement to those who have been impacted by the incorrect medication and assured its commitment to delivering high-quality healthcare to its patients. 

Adam Bagni, the hospital’s director of external communications said the possibility that patients were actually infected with HIV, hepatitis B, or hepatitis C is “extremely small” as no such case has come to the fore as of Thursday. 

Currently, the hospital is testing patients for hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV infections. 

“The possibility of patients being exposed to bloodborne pathogens due to bad practices in hospitals is pretty rare,” said Dr. Shira Doron, chief infection control officer for the Tufts Medicine health system as quoted by NBC News. 

She said that healthcare workers are exposed to these pathogens far more often due to injuries from needles, and other procedural equipment. 

Doron stated that hospitals are held responsible for adhering to stringent protocols for sanitizing needles, syringes, and other medical equipment before it is used.

Patients are nevertheless occasionally exposed to illnesses. In 2018, a New Jersey surgery center’s use of rusty equipment put over 3,000 patients at risk of contracting HIV, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C

According to a report published in the Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine, “negligent practices” at two endoscopy clinics in Las Vegas may have exposed up to 63,000 patients to hepatitis C in 2008, as per NBC News reports. 

Healthcare professionals should make sure they never use the same needle and syringe on more than one patient in order to prevent exposing patients to illnesses like HIV, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C, Doron added. 

She also mentioned that healthcare workers should refrain from capping a used syringe that has a needle in it so that other employees won’t think it’s okay to use it.

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Updated: 17 Nov 2023, 11:42 AM IST

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