York County surgical center notifies patients of possible Hepatitis & HIV risk
A York County surgical center is warning some patients that they may be at risk of blood borne infection. The warning came after the Department of Health and the Department of State investigated White Rose Surgical Associates and determined the office failed to follow proper infection control guidelines.
White Rose Surgical Associates sent out a letter to at-risk patients, recommending they undergo testing for Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C and HIV. The surgical center also included a voucher so patients could undergo the testing for free.
Around 1,100 patients, or 2.7% of their patients received the notice.
“We sincerely apologize to all of our patients for any worry and inconvenience that this would cause,” said Physician/Surgeon with White Rose Surgical Associates, Dr. Thomas Scott.
State documents reveal that the practice “utilized syringes that had been used to re-draw anesthetic from a multi-dose vial.”
“For example, if a skin mole is excised in our office, we would use a sterile needle and a sterile syringe to draw up a syringe full of anesthetic. If additional anesthetic was required to complete the procedure, a new sterile needle was used but the same syringe may have been. That lead to a potential for contamination of that vile,” said Dr. Scott. Being multi-use, that same contaminated vial could have then been used on another patient.
“The risk to any individual patient, we believe, is low. Our research would indicate that under similar injection types use of local anesthetic the risk is anywhere from as great as one in 5,000 to as little as one in a million,” said Dr. Scott.
State documents also show the office “Utilized flexible and rigid biopsy forceps that had not been sterilized,” and “utilized Sigmoidoscope biopsy ports that were not properly disinfected,” according to court documents.
“I want to assure our patients that after each and every procedure our equipment was cleaned and disinfected, however, one part of the processing for the biopsy forceps and the sigmoidoscope used in that procedure, was not compliant with nationally recognized guidelines,” said Dr. Scott.
Press Secretary for The Pennsylvania Department of State, Ronald Ruman, said White Rose Surgical Associates cooperated fully with the investigation. “The individuals involved were cooperating with the Bureau of Investigation and Enforcement, which is part of the Department of State, and Department of Health, to set up a plan to notify patients and to provide follow-up, outreach and support for patients,” said Ruman.
“Keeping up with policies and regulations for a practice such as ours is quite challenging. Once we were notified of the lapses we immediately corrected the problem,” said Dr. Scott.
Patients with questions can call a toll-free information line: 1-800-870-1841