Salem Hospital, Massachusetts, notified around 450 patients of potential exposure to hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and HIV during endoscopy procedures spanning two years.
The potential exposure occurred during the administration of IV medications, a practice the hospital deemed inconsistent with their best standards.
Endoscopy procedures involve the insertion of a tube-like instrument into the body to examine internal organs. Salem Hospital acknowledged the lapse in their practice earlier this year, swiftly rectifying the issue and notifying their quality and infection control teams upon discovery.
Although specifics regarding the exposure’s cause or correction were not disclosed, the hospital stressed that they’ve been collaborating with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.
Following a thorough examination, Salem Hospital decided that the risk of infection for the individuals involved was extremely small. To address concerns, the hospital contacted possibly impacted people, offering free testing and support.
Massachusetts Health Department Probes Salem Hospital
Additionally, a hotline staffed by clinicians has been set up to address any questions or anxieties from affected individuals.
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health conducted an onsite investigation and advised Salem Hospital to inform all impacted patients in writing about the potential exposure, providing complimentary follow-up care and testing.
Mass Brigham, Salem Hospital’s owner, emphasized that standard tests for hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and HIV are being conducted for those affected. They assured patients of the hospital’s commitment to corrective actions and the delivery of high-quality healthcare, expressing regret for the impact caused.
While hepatitis B has a vaccine, hepatitis C is treatable with antiviral medications (with a 95% cure rate), and HIV can be managed with antiretroviral therapy, significantly reducing viral loads and making transmission nearly impossible when the virus is undetectable.
As investigations continue, Salem Hospital and health authorities are diligently working to address concerns, offer necessary support, and ensure the safety and well-being of affected patients in this regrettable incident.