Officials at Baystate Health have said some 293 patients who had colonoscopies at the Baystate Noble Hospital some years ago are at risk of having been exposed to Blood-borne disease that include HIV, Hepatitis B, and Hepatitis C.
A news release sent to 22News by Baystate Health spokesperson Ben Craft, the risk is due to improper disinfection procedure with colonoscopes, which is the instrument used in colonoscopies.
The 293 patients received colonoscopies at the Baystate Noble Hospital between June 2012 and April 2013. Officials have sent notifications to the patients involved, so that they can start receiving screenings. The health officials, however, described the risk of infection as being small.
“In June 2012 Noble Hospital began using new colonoscopes, which required a different approach to disinfection than instruments used previously at Noble. Due to a failure in training, the disinfection of those endoscopes between procedures did not adequately expose the devices’ single water irrigation channel to high-level disinfection during the last phase of cleaning. This is similar to other, more recent problems with sterilization encountered across the country with endoscopes used for other procedures,” Craft wrote.
Though, Noble was not part of the Baystate Health system at the time of the exposure, hospital president Ronald Bryant says they are very sorry for what happened.
“On behalf of Baystate Noble Hospital and Baystate Health, I apologize to all those affected by this failure in safety,” Bryant said. “The safety of our patients is our very highest priority, and we take full responsibility for our part in allowing these patients to have potentially received unsafe care,” he said.
Identifying those who may be at risk wasn’t an easy process for the hospital. Patients who have not been informed by Baystate Noble Hospital do not have any reason to be worried, Craft says.
“Due to the function of the water irrigation channel and the phase of disinfection at which the failure occurred, the risk to patients is very low,” said Dr. Sarah Haessler, infectious disease physician and head epidemiologist for Baystate Health. “However, that risk is not zero, so we’re taking the necessary steps to address these issues and provide patients with the resources they need.”
The hospital system according to Craft, has a team in place saddled with the responsibility of properly ensuring measures are put in place in endoscopic procedures, such as colonoscopies.
What is it used for?
Colonoscope is a thin, flexible tube that ranges from 48 in. (125 cm) to 72 in. Colonoscopy is used by doctors to find ulcers, colon polyps, tumors, and areas of inflammation or breeding. During the process of colonoscopy, the doctor collects tissue samples, while abnormal growths can also be taken out. It can also be used as a screening test to check for cancer or precancerous growths in the colon or rectum.
However, it is one out of a couple of other tests that may be used to screen people for colon cancer; with sigmoidoscopy, stool tests, and computed tomographic colonography among the list.