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450 patients at Mass. hospital possibly exposed to HIV, hepatitis

Salem Hospital said the exposure happened during bad practices while administering IV medications to endoscopy patients.
450 patients at Mass. hospital possibly exposed to HIV, hepatitis
Posted at 8:43 AM, Nov 17, 2023

Nearly 450 patients at a hospital in Massachusetts may have been exposed to HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C due to bad practices while their IVs were being administered, according to reports. 

Salem Hospital, which is 20 miles from Boston, said the possible exposure affected patients receiving an endoscopy between June 2021 and April 2023, according to a a statement obtained by NBC Boston.

The hospital said it immediately corrected its practice upon learning about it, and notified its quality and infection control teams. 

"Salem Hospital has notified all potentially impacted patients, set up a clinician-staffed hotline to answer questions, and we are providing them with free screening and any necessary support," officials said in a statement.

The hospital said the risk of infection is "extremely small."

As of Wednesday, the hospital said there was no evidence of any patients being infected.

"The safety of our patients is our highest priority and we have undertaken multiple corrective actions in response to this event. We sincerely apologize to those who have been impacted and we remain committed to delivering high-quality, compassionate health care to our community," said the statement.

An endoscopy is a medical imaging procedure where a tube-like instrument is inserted into the body to look at internal organs, according to the American Cancer Society. Examples of procedures include colonoscopies and gastrointestinal ultrasounds.

There are currently no cures for HIV or hepatitis B, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Treatment plans can help manage the viruses and reduce the risks of complications.

For hepatitis C, direct-acting antiviral (DAA) tablets are "highly effective" at clearing the infection in more than 90% of people, according to the U.K.'s National Health Service.

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