Patients May Be Exposed To HIV, Hepatitis

Nearly 450 patients at Salem Hospital in Massachusetts were possibly exposed to HIV, Hepatitis B, and Hepatitis C. According to ABC News, the hospital shared a statement with the outlet detailing the possible exposure on Thursday, November 16.

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How The Nearly 450 Patients Were Possibly Infected

According to ABC News, the patients possibly exposed to HIV, Hepatitis B, and Hepatitis C were endoscopy patients. Verywell Health notes that an endoscopy utilizes a tube and camera inserted into the body. This gives medical professionals a look at one’s internal organs.

Endoscopy patients undergo procedures such as colonoscopies, which examine the large intestines; bronchoscopies, which examine the lungs; and laparoscopies, which examine the abdomen.

Furthermore, the outlet notes that the patient group “may have been exposed over a period of two years.”

ABC News reports that Salem Hospital suspects the exposure may have occurred “during the administration of IV medications.” Additionally, the hospital notes its previous IV administration was “in a manner not consistent with our best practice.”

How Did Salem Hospital Address The Issue & What Will Potentially Exposed Patients Do Now?

According to ABC News, Salem Hospital was made aware of the subpar practice earlier this year. The hospital adds that it has “corrected the practice and notified its quality and infection control teams.”

However, the outlet adds that the hospital’s statements did not reveal how its practices have been “corrected.”

Furthermore, the facility has informed the outlet that it has worked closely with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health to determine that “infection risk to patients… is extremely small.”

Salem Hospital has reportedly notified “all potentially impacted patients.” Additionally, the facility has reportedly set up a hotline for patient questions and is offering “free screenings.”

“There is no evidence to date of any infections resulting from this incident,” Salem Hospital’s statement to ABC News reads.

According to NBC News, the notice given to “potentially impacted patients” reportedly did not disclose “the serious illnesses to which they may have been exposed.”

ABC News reports that a spokesperson for Mass Brigham, the company that owns Salem Hospital, has told the outlet that tests for HIV, Hepatitis B, and Hepatitis C are “standard tests for an exposure of this kind.”

Additionally, the spokesperson reportedly noted that since the risk of infection is “small… if patients have not been notified, they don’t need to be concerned.”

Massachusetts Department of Public Health has informed ABC News that it has advised Salem Hospital to “notify all impacted patients in writing about the potential exposure to bloodborne pathogens.” Additionally, the MDPH has advised Salem Hospital to “offer free-of-charge follow-up care, including testing.”

More Details Regarding HIV, Hepatitis B, And Hepatitis C

According to the CDC, there is no cure for HIV. However, it can be controlled with treatment, reducing the virus’s presence in the body and lowering or preventing the risk of transmission to others.

The World Health Organization notes that Hepatitis B is “preventable with a vaccine.” However, those who contract the infection “can be treated with medicines.” From there, medicinal use “must continue… for life.”

According to the World Health Organization, there is no vaccine for Hepatitis C. However, it can be treated with antiviral medications.

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