Victoria BC: Hundreds Possibly Exposed to Hep B, C, HIV
The failure to adequately clean medical instruments has left hundreds in Victoria, BC possibly exposed to Hepatitis B, C and HIV. If you say it quickly, it sounds like a child's rhyme, but this is no children's play. About 500 patients undergoing endoscopy at Victoria General Hospital between June 2008 and January 2010 may have been exposed to these incurable viruses.
Victoria General Hospital is part of the Vancouver Island Health Authority(VIHA) which administers health matters for the whole of Vancouver Island.
Endoscopy is a process that uses equipment to view the inside of the digestive system using a tiny camera at the end of a flexible tube. It is very useful for looking at the inside of your stomach without having to cut you open. After use, the equipment needs to be meticulously cleaned. In this case that was not done and blood was allowed to dry on the equipment. It is not known how long the blood, contaminated with a bacterium was on the equipment.
While the danger of passing on Hepatitis B, C or HIV to the patients treated between June 2008 and January of this year is very small, none of the diseases from these viruses is curable and once infected, leaves the person with a chronic life threatening condition.
Kevin Falcon, minister of health services, said while all health authorities have rigorous standards for sterilization, there’s never a perfect solution. “What you always have to do is be constantly trying to improve performance, have checks in place, and make sure you are as careful as you can possibly be,” said Falcon. “But you will never eliminate the risk altogether.”
Kevin Falcon is not a physician. He has a BA and a diploma in real estate sales and mortgage brokers, also from a university.
The present provincial government has taken a lot of fire recently over the cleanliness or lack of it in the government run hospitals. Locally, the Nanaimo Regional Hospital is coping with its third outbreak of C. difficile in a year.