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“The only thing necessary for these diseases to the triumph is for good people and governments to do nothing.”


Eighth hospital discloses instruments not disinfected
251 York Central outpatients affected
Ear, nose and throat clinic involved


The number of Ontario hospitals hit with infection-control woes is up to
eight after York Central Hospital revealed yesterday an instrument used in
nose and throat exams hadn't been completely sterilized, possibly exposing
251 patients to disease.

The incident involved outpatients at the ear, nose and throat clinic of the
Richmond Hill hospital who might be at risk after a diagnostic tool was
cleaned but wasn't soaked in a high-level disinfectant.

York Central chief of staff Dr. Richard Schabas emphasized that the
examinations weren't invasive, so the chance of blood-borne diseases such as
hepatitis being transmitted was extremely low.

"We don't expect to find that there's been any harm from this exposure, but
we want to be absolutely sure," Schabas told the Star last night.



"We also recognize we can't be sure there's no risk."

Schabas said the disinfectant process had been corrected and patients were
being contacted and would be counselled and tested as appropriate.

York Central's disclosure follows revelations of major infection-control
breakdowns in Ontario hospitals in recent weeks and a call last week from
Health Minister George Smitherman for all hospitals to audit their
sterilization procedures.

Smitherman said yesterday Ontario hospitals are getting the message.

"As a result of the exposure that we're giving to this, our hospitals are
clean and getting cleaner," the minister told Canadian Press. "Everyone
should be reassured we're getting to the bottom of it."

The province's infection-control problems began early this month, when
Lakeridge Health Centre in Oshawa announced 118 patients had been exposed to
hepatitis B and C and HIV when instruments used in throat and rectal
examinations hadn't been properly sterilized.

The Lakeridge patients have launched an $81 million lawsuit.

When Sunnybrook and Women's College Health Sciences Centre revealed last
week that 861 men may have been exposed to HIV, as well as hepatitis B and
C, because of unsterilized equipment used in prostate biopsies, Smitherman
called for the province-wide audit with a deadline of Jan. 4, 2004, for

On Nov. 19, four other hospitals revealed sterilization slip-ups, bringing
the number of people potentially exposed to disease to more than 1,000.

Hotel Dieu Hospital in St. Catharines, St. Mary's General Hospital in
Kitchener, Winchester District Memorial Hospital near Ottawa and Cambridge
Memorial Hospital all announced that patients may have been exposed to
infection because of questionable sterilization procedures.

In the cases at St. Mary's and Winchester, all tests have come back
negative. At Hotel Dieu, the risk of exposure to hepatitis A and C or HIV is
considered extremely low for six prostate biopsy patients. And in Cambridge,
42 men had a one in 100,000 chance of exposure to hepatitis A, B, C and HIV
after prostate biopsy instruments were found to have been unsterile.


Also last week, Brantford General Hospital announced it was recalling 328
patients for HIV and hepatitis tests after an audit revealed staff had been
disinfecting but not sterilizing an instrument used in prostate biopsies.