Updated July 17, 2013: Kansas health officials say they've just begun an investigation into what they say was hospital error that put patients at risk for diseases.
244 patients are at risk because the KDHE says colonoscopy equipment was not properly sterilized.
The Kansas Department of Health and Environment says workers at the hospital in Chanute did not properly conduct colonoscopies. This oversight happened between January 3 and July 3 of this year.
The KDHE says it was not notified about what happened until July 10.
The KDHE says the hospital's colonoscopy equipment was not properly sterilized. The patients during that time are now being asked to take blood tests for diseases that are transmitted by blood, Hepatitis C, Hepatitis B, and HIV.
Patients are being contacted and asked to have blood drawn at either the Neosho Memorial Hospital or the Neosho County Health Department in Chanute.
The hospital does say risk of infection is low, but the KDHE says the risk is certainly there.
The hospital in Chanute and the county health department would not comment on camera about the importance of getting these blood tests.
The KDHE says it'll take about two weeks for patients who are at risk to receive blood results after they've taken the test.
Posted July 16, 2013 - NEWS RELEASE FROM NEOSHO MEMORIAL REGIONAL MEDICAL CENTER:
Neosho Memorial Regional Medical Center has recently learned that the procedure used to disinfect one type of endoscope was not adequate. The oversight occurred between January 3, 2013, and July 3, 2013. Due to this infection control breach, we are working with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) and the Neosho County Health Department (NCHD) to notify patients by mail who received a colonoscopy during this time.
Infection control specialists both within the hospital and from outside consider the risk of any infection transmission in these cases to be extremely low.
But, because the risk is not zero, we recommend that notified patients receive blood tests for hepatitis C, hepatitis B, and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).
In coordination with KDHE, Neosho Memorial Regional Medical Center will be providing blood tests to notified patients at no charge.
For each patient undergoing a colonoscopy, an endoscope is used. Some of the hospital's scopes feature a small auxiliary water channel that can be used to spray water ahead of the scope. The auxiliary water channel feature was not used.
Manufacturer's cleaning instructions indicate the water channel should be flushed as part of the sterilization process. Because the auxiliary water channel was not being used, it was not a standardized practice to flush the channel as part of the sterilization process.
Because all scopes are immersed in a sterilizing agent before each new patient case and because the auxiliary water channels were never used, Infection Control specialists consider the risk of any infection transmission in these cases to be extremely low.
Because we cannot say the risk is zero, however, we are acting with an abundance of caution and recommend that notified patients receive blood tests. Blood tests, now and 6 months after the patient's procedure date are the only way to confirm that no infection was transmitted.
In coordination with KDHE and the Neosho County Health Department, blood tests for notified patients include:
Blood samples will be sent to the Kansas Health and Environmental laboratories for analysis. Patients will be notified of test results by KDHE approximately two weeks after the blood draw. If a patient prefers to receive blood tests at a different facility, please contact NMRMC prior to the appointment so the hospital can arrange to pay for the tests.
In the highly unlikely event that an infection has been transmitted and any follow-up treatment is required, we will provide that care free of charge. Though the risk of infection in this case is extremely low, each of the illnesses, when identified early, can be treated with medication.
We understand this information may be distressing, and we are committed to providing our patients with access to timely and accurate information to ensure peace of mind, safety, and well-being. The staff on our Information Line can answer patient questions. If patients cannot call between 7 am and 7 pm, leave a message and a nurse will return patient calls. Or, patients may call the KDHE Epidemiology Hotline at (877) 427-7317. The general public may visit www.nmrmc.com for more information.
Neosho Memorial has conducted a thorough review of all endoscopy procedures and related infection control practices, and implemented required steps. Patients' health and well-being are top priorities for everyone at Neosho Memorial Regional Medical Center and we deeply regret concerns this issue has caused.