Forbes Regional Hospital alerts 200 patients who received colonoscopies that they may be at risk for hepatitis, HIV
Some 200 patients who received colonoscopies at Forbes Regional Hospital recently received news that improperly cleaned colonoscopes may put them at risk of infection. Patients who received colonoscopies between October 28, 2004 and February 26, 2005 were alerted by hospital officials via certified letter to the risk and requested to contact the hospital and set up appointments for tests to rule out hepatitis and HIV infections. The latency period of these diseases means testing again in 6 months is necessary to absolutely rule out the possibility of infection.
Colonoscopes are long, flexible fiberoptic tubes used to examine a patient’s rectum and large intestine. When two new colonoscopes were recently purchased by Forbes, hospital staff were unaware that the instruments were slightly different than ones currently in use. The new colonoscopes have a secondary channel that provides physicians additional cleaning options. Although the feature was unused by doctors at Forbes, the channel must still be properly disinfected. According to the colonoscope manufacturer, Olympus America Inc, instructions are provided with each colonoscope, which include proper cleaning procedures.
Improperly cleaned colonoscopes were also an issue in 2003 at New York and California hospitals. Thousands of patient screenings for hepatitis and HIV resulted. Although the risk of infection is considered quite low, there are recorded cases of hepatitis transmission from contaminated colonoscopes.