Most people go to the hospital to get cured of disease.
But almost 450 patients at Salem Hospital in Massachusetts have now been warned of their possible exposure to hepatitis and HIV.
The exposure was caused by intravenous (IV) medication errors over the past two years.
Officials at Salem Hospital, located some 16 miles north of Boston, earlier this year notified all patients who may have been exposed.
The hospital, which is part of the Mass General Brigham health care system, has also tested patients for hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV, which are “standard tests for a potential exposure of this kind,” a hospital spokesperson told CNN.
Salem Hospital also set up a telephone hotline staffed by clinicians to answer questions. The Post has reached out to the hospital for comment.
The medication errors, which occurred during improper administration of IV drugs, involved patients who needed an endoscopy, a routine procedure in which a doctor inserts a thin, tubelike camera device into the body to conduct an examination.
“There is no evidence to date of any infections resulting from this incident,” the hospital said in a prepared statement. “We have determined that the infection risk to patients from this event is extremely small.
“We sincerely apologize to those who have been impacted and we remain committed to delivering high-quality, compassionate health care to our community,” the hospital said.
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health was made aware of the potential exposures — they also concluded the risk of possible of infection to be very low.
Hepatitis B and hepatitis C are viral infections that damage the liver — the virus can spread by sharing needles, syringes and other injection equipment, or through sexual activity with an infected person.
Though these types of exposures are rare, they are not without precedent. In 2018, over 3,000 patients at the HealthPlus Surgery Center in Saddle Brook, New Jersey, were notified of a possible exposure to hepatitis and HIV.
An investigation by the New Jersey Department of Health revealed that employees failed to follow proper procedures for sterilizing medical equipment.
And in 2008, two endoscopy clinics in Las Vegas were cited for potentially exposing up to 63,000 patients to hepatitis C, primarily due to substandard infection control and other negligence.