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Hundreds Of Patients Potentially Exposed To HIV, Hepatitis At Hospital

A hospital in Massachusetts announced that hundreds of patients were potentially exposed to HIV, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C.

Salem Hospital, located 20 miles from Boston, said nearly 450 patients undergoing endoscopy at the hospital for roughly two years may have been exposed to the pathogens.

“Salem Hospital said patients may have been exposed during the administration of IV medications ‘in a manner not consistent with our best practice,'” ABC News reports.

Per ABC News:

The hospital said it was made aware of the incidents earlier this year and that it corrected the practice and notified its quality and infection control teams.

No specifics were given by hospital officials on how the exposure may have occurred or how it was corrected.

Salem Hospital said it’s been working with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health since learning of the exposure and after a review, “we have determined that the infection risk to patients from this event is extremely small,” the statement read.

“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,” the statement continued. “There is no evidence to date of any infections resulting from this incident.”

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health told ABC News it performed an onsite investigation at the hospital and worked with the infection control team to manage the situation.

“DPH advised the hospital to notify all impacted patients in writing about the potential exposure to bloodborne pathogens and to offer free-of-charge follow-up care, including testing,” the department said.

The roughly 450 patients received an endoscopy at the hospital between June 2021 and April 2023.

“An endoscopy is a medical imaging procedure in which doctors use a tube to look at internal organs,” Boston Herald noted.

More from the Boston Herald:

The tests being offered are “standard tests for an exposure of this kind because they are common blood-borne pathogenic viruses that often don’t produce symptomatic infection,” a hospital spokesperson said.

Hepatitis B and C as well as HIV are blood-borne viruses that some people carry in their blood and can be spread from one person to another. Hepatitis B and C are treatable with antiviral medications, and while HIV is not curable, it can be treated with antiretroviral therapy.

Mass General Brigham owns Salem Hospital.

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

CBS Boston aired this video report:


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