Denver Hospital Patients Possibly Exposed to HIV, Hepatitis

Denver Hospital Patients Possibly Exposed to HIV, Hepatitis

Surgery patients at a Denver hospital may have been exposed to HIV or hepatitis as a result of contaminated surgical instruments, hospital and state health officials said.

An infection-control breach at Porter Adventist Hospital may have put some surgery patients at risk for contracting hepatitis B, hepatitis C or HIV,  the Denver Post reports.

The breach may have affected patients who had orthopedic or spine surgery between July 21, 2016, and Feb. 20. The risk of infection is “very low,” said Larry Wolk, the executive director and chief medical officer for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment,

Hospital officials and state authorities did not indicate how many patients could have been impacted. 

“The process for cleaning surgical instruments following orthopedic and spine surgeries was found to be inadequate, which may have compromised the sterilization of the instruments,” read a statement from Wolk.

The department doesn’t know of any patient infections related to the breach, he added. The hospital mailed letters to patients who may have been exposed.

The letter noted the sterilization issue involved the pre-cleaning process that happens before instruments go through “an intense heat sterilization.” 

“Although extremely low, there is a risk of surgical site infection or bloodborne pathogen transmission,” the letter read. “In the rare event that a patient tests positive for a bloodborne pathogen, there are many treatment options available. Your health care provider will discuss these with you in the unlikely event you receive a positive test result.”

Patients can call a hotline, 303-778-5694, for more information.

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