Hepatitis and HIV scare for veterans in Wisconsin due to cross-contamination
Many hospitals and clinics continue to employ reusable medical instruments, and as a number of studies have shown, this poses a small but real threat to patient health. The danger comes in the form of bacteria and viruses, which can be spread to patients from inadequately sterilized reusable tools. After all, as the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists pointed out, it has been widely proven that the sterilization techniques at medical facilities nationwide are ineffective at completely cleaning the tools – minute amounts of blood can still linger on instruments after sterilization, leading to a the risk of transmission of an array of bacteria and viruses such as HPV, Hepatitis and even HIV.
A tangible threat
There have been several notable cases wherein patients have become infected with disease due to cross-contamination from reusable medical instruments. For example, the AANA reported on a case where four children became infected with Pseudomonas aeruginosa from the same reusable tool, leading to the death of one of the children. Furthermore, a recent news story out of Wisconsin has underscored the dangers of reusable instruments.
Infection scare for Wisconsin veterans
According to WEAU News, an NBC station based in Wisconsin, a dentist working out of Tomah Veterans Affairs Hospital was recently found to be reusing dental instruments after sterilization, a violation of VA policy which poses the risk of cross-contamination. The source explained that the hospital, following the lead of other health facilities across the nation, uses only disposable medical instruments. Given the risk of cross-contamination that the dentist's action's caused, the hospital announced in a press conference that almost 600 veterans have potentially been exposed to HIV and two strains of Hepatitis – B and C. The source noted that the hospital has removed the dentist in question from his role and is offering free testing for all veterans who have been affected. Furthermore, in the event that anyone tests positive for Hepatitis or HIV, medical treatment will be provided by Tomah VA, free of charge.
"Almost 600 veterans have potentially been exposed to HIV."
WEAU News noted that while no criminal charges have yet been introduced against the alleged offender, the Medical Center Director of Tomah VA, Victoria Brahm, found evidence that the dentist's disregard for procedure was intentional:
"It was purposeful that he was violating VA regulations. During all of the orientation, he used all of our equipment. He used it appropriately, so it was very purposeful from what we found in our investigation that he knew exactly what he was doing, and preferred to use his own equipment against procedure." Brahm said during the press conference.
Information about HIV and Hepatitis B and C
Both HIV and Hepatitis are chronic long-term health conditions: HIV, as outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is a virus that attacks the immune system over time. Without proper treatment the condition can lead to the development of AIDS, which is essentially a complete breakdown of the immune system, leaving patients vulnerable to a whole host of potentially deadly illnesses and infections. The source noted that, thankfully, medications are now effective at helping HIV-positive patients, and even those living with AIDS, live relatively long and otherwise healthy lives.
Similarly, Hepatitis is a chronic viral infection, but instead of attacking the immune system Hepatitis B affects the liver, the World Health Organization detailed. There is no curative treatment that is effective in every case, although some patients can be cured. Rather, much like with HIV, patients need to take medication to manage symptoms and stay as healthy as possible. Hepatitis C, on the other hand, is a little different. While the virus still attacks the liver, the notable difference is that the condition can be cured with medication in a vast majority of cases.
OBP Medical can help
In any case, the risk of chronic diseases such as the ones outlined above is too high for medical providers to ignore. Efforts to reduce cross-contamination are advisable and one effective way to prevent the spread of disease is through the use of single-use medical devices, such as the range on offer from OBP Medical.
Sterile and built ready to use, all OBP Medical devices come with a safe LED light source powered by lithium batteries. Healthcare professionals should use the tools just once before throwing away. In addition to be safer for patients, single-use tools from OBP Medical offer the following benefits:
- Time savings.
- Money savings.
- Increased patient comfort.
- Ease of use.
OBP Medical creates tools for a range of specialties. Examples of products include the single-use lighted Anoscope and the single-use lighted vaginal speculum. For more information and to request free samples, click here.