The Virginia Mason Hospital states there is a small risk that patients treated in the dialysis unit may have been exposed to the viral infection.
A Seattle hospital has admitted almost 650 dialysis patients could potentially have been exposed to Hepatitis B due to neglect in procedures by hospital staff.
The Virginia Mason Hospital says inconsistencies in screening and isolation procedures currently recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over the last five years could put hundreds of dialysis patients at risk of blood infections. The hospital urges any patients to get tested immediately but stresses that the risk of infection is low.
“The risk of exposure to Hepatitis B was very low because of our other infection-control safeguards,” said Virginia Mason Hospital’s nephrology unit head Dr. Cyrus Cryst. “Out of an abundance of caution, we are informing patients of the situation, explaining there was a minimal risk of exposure for them and letting them know we are a ready resource for any questions they have. Patient safety is always our top priority.”
“If you are a regular dialysis patient, your dialysis unit is likely routinely testing you for hepatitis B according to guidelines. Check with your dialysis provider to be sure you have been tested. If you are immune to hepatitis B, there is nothing more to do with respect to this notice.”
Hepatitis B mainly attacks the liver resulting in liver failure and can be spread through bodily fluids and medical equipment. Nearly 780,000 people die each year from contracting the viral infection although in many countries like the U.S., it can be treated easily with vaccines.
So far the Virginia Mason Hospital has not discovered any Hepatitus B in the 650 patients they contacted. The Seattle and King County Public Health have conducted an investigation into the hospital’s procedures however no high risk of contracting blood infection in their dialysis unit has been found. However, they will be continually assessed for proper disinfecting and cleaning procedures from now on.