The Massachusetts-based Salem Hospital revealed that hundreds of its patients may have been exposed to HIV, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C.
The facility, which is 20 miles northeast of Boston, may have exposed about 450 endoscopy patients over the course of two years, according to a statement issued by Salem facility on Wednesday and given to ABC News.
During an endoscopy operation, a physician inserts a tube-shaped device into the patient’s body to view inside. Bronchoscopies, colonoscopies, and laparoscopies are a few examples of endoscopic operations.
According to Salem Hospital, patients might have been exposed in a way that went against our best practices when IV medication was being administered.
The hospital said that after learning about the events earlier in the year, it changed the procedure and informed its infection control and quality staff. Hospital officials did not provide any information on how the exposure might have happened or how it was remedied.
Following an investigation, Salem Hospital noted that it has been collaborating with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health since learning about the exposure and that the hospital has concluded that there is a very low risk of infection for patients as a result of this incident.
“Salem Hospital has notified all potentially impacted patients, set up a clinician-staffed hotline to answer questions, and we are providing them with free screening and any necessary support. There is no evidence to date of any infections resulting from this incident.”
The spokesman also stressed that patients shouldn’t worry if they haven’t been informed that there is a slight chance of infection.
Hepatitis B vaccinations are available, but none that guard against HIV and hepatitis C infections. Antiviral medications can be used to treat hepatitis B and C, with the latter infection being 95% curable.
Antiretroviral medication is a treatment option for HIV; nevertheless, it is not curative. The drug lowers the amount of the virus in the patient’s body, making it almost impossible to detect and, hence, non-transmissible.