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Hundreds of dialysis patients at risk for hepatitis B

Patients in Arizona hospitals that require dialysis must rely on health care staff to keep the process sanitary. If there is a mistake during one step of the procedure, it could result in a dialysis patient being exposed to an infection. Recently, a hospital in Seattle had to warn around 650 dialysis patients that they might have been exposed to hepatitis B.

On June 17, public health officials in Washington announced that patients who underwent dialysis at the Virginia Mason Hospital and Medical Center should be tested for hepatitis B. The potential for exposure to hepatitis B began in 2011 due to a failure in screening procedures. At the end of May, the facility told health officials that staff members were not taking steps to screen and isolate patients on a consistent basis.

An investigation into the hospital's dialysis procedures found that hospital staff consistently disinfected equipment and completed other steps recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Though the lapse in screening procedures presents some risk of hepatitis B transmission, health officials say that they believe that risk is low. Officials also said that the investigation found that patients undergoing dialysis at the hospital were not at an increased risk for contracting infections from blood-borne pathogens.

A patient that contracts hepatitis B or another disease after a hospital stay may have been a victim of hospital negligence. An attorney may be able to help a patient in this situation to look for evidence of a medical error. If medical equipment was not sterilized or hospital staff did not use gloves to prevent infection, an injured patient may have grounds for a lawsuit.

Source: FOX News Health, "At least 650 dialysis patients at Seattle hospital possibly exposed to hepatitis B," June 18, 2016

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