Nearly 450 patients in the hospital may have been exposed to HIV, hepatitis

Salem Hospital in Massachusetts has announced that hundreds of its patients may have been exposed to hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV.

Nearly 450 patients who underwent endoscopy at the hospital 20 miles northeast of Boston may have been exposed to the endoscope over a two-year period, according to a statement released by Salem Hospital on Wednesday and provided to ABC News.

An endoscopy occurs when a doctor inserts a tube-like instrument into the body to look inside. Types of endoscopy include bronchoscopy, colonoscopy, and laparoscopy.

Salem Hospital said patients may have been exposed to the virus while receiving intravenous medication “in a manner that is inconsistent with our best practices.”

The hospital said it was informed of the incidents earlier this year and corrected the practice, notifying its quality and infection control teams.

Hospital officials did not specify how the exposure occurred or how it was corrected.

Salem Hospital said it has been working with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health since learning of the incident and, after review, “we have determined that this incident posed a minimal risk of infection to patients,” the statement read.

“Salem Hospital has notified all potentially affected patients, a hotline staffed by clinicians has been set up to answer questions, and we are providing them with free screening and any necessary support,” the statement continued. “To date, no There is no evidence that this incident resulted in any infection.”

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health told ABC News it conducted an on-site investigation of the hospital and worked with infection control teams to contain the situation.

“DPH recommends that hospitals notify all affected patients in writing of possible exposure to bloodborne pathogens and provide free follow-up care, including testing,” the department said.

A spokesman for the Massachusetts Brigham Hospital, which owns Salem Hospital, told ABC News that testing for hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV is the standard test for this type of exposure.

The spokesperson also emphasized that the risk of infection is small and there is no need to worry if patients are not notified.

“Patient safety is our top priority and we have taken multiple corrective actions in response to this incident,” the statement from the Massachusetts Brigham Hospital continued. “We sincerely apologize to those affected and we remain committed to To provide high-quality, compassionate health care to our community.”

While there is a vaccine for hepatitis B, there is no vaccine to prevent hepatitis C and HIV infection.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, both hepatitis B and hepatitis C can be treated with antiviral drugs, with the latter having a 95% cure rate.

HIV has no cure, but it can be treated and controlled with antiretroviral therapy. The drug reduces the viral load in a patient’s body, making the virus virtually undetectable and therefore unable to spread.

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