Two Hundred Colonoscopy Patients Accidentally Exposed to HIV

Risk of infection is low, says the hospital CEO, but everyone is being tested.

BY David Artavia

July 22 2013 3:47 PM ET

Neosho Memorial Regional Medical Center in Chanute, KS

Last week offered a rude awakening to many Kansas residents. Letters were sent out July 16 to 240 patients who received a colonoscopies from Neosho Memorial Regional Medical Center in Chanute, Kansas, in the last seven months. The crux? They may have been exposed to HIV, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C. 

According to the Neosho's CEO Dennis Franks, the hospital's procedure failed to properly disinfect one type of endoscope — the equipment used in a colonoscopy — after the auxiliary water channel within three of the six endoscopes used were found to be unsanitary. The manufacturer's cleaning instructions clearly required sterilizing the channel with each patient, the hospital staff didn't follow it's recommendations since they did not use that particular function of the endoscope.

“Infection control specialists consider the risk of any infection transmission in these cases extremely low,” Franks told the Chanute Tribune. “But because we cannot say the risk is zero, we are acting with an abundance of caution and recommend the notified patients receive a blood test.”

Franks wrote that all the patients who may have been exposed will receive free screenings for the infectious diseases. He said he is unsure if Neosho Memorial will receive any lawsuits, but if even if just one patient is shown to have been infected, he promises that they will have full medical treatment provided.

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