Sept. 10, 2014 Update

Evidence does not indicate patient exposure to hepatitis C at PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center

A thorough investigation has not found any evidence that patients were exposed to hepatitis C at PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center.

The joint investigation was conducted by PeaceHealth Southwest and Clark County Public Health, with genetic testing through the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It was prompted by concerns that a former employee might have been diverting patient medications for personal use.

“We are very pleased that test results have not indicated any exposure of patients to hepatitis C at PeaceHealth Southwest,” said Sy Johnson, Chief Executive Officer, PeaceHealth Southwest. “We sincerely apologize to patients and their families for any anxiety or inconvenience caused by the investigation. We have a duty to ensure the well-being of our patients, and we take that duty very seriously. We continue forward with our commitment to meeting the needs of our patients every day.”

PeaceHealth and Clark County Public Health have kept law enforcement and professional licensing organizations informed.

No additional patients will be invited in for testing at this time. Third-party experts, including representatives from Clark County Public Health, evaluated infection control practices at PeaceHealth Southwest and found no concerns.

“We appreciate PeaceHealth’s professionalism and partnership,” said Dr. Alan Melnick, Director and Health Officer, Clark County Public Health. “Throughout this investigation, PeaceHealth has ensured that the health and well-being of its patients remains its first priority.”

Nationally, an estimated 4 million people, or 1.6 percent of the population, have the hepatitis C virus. Many of these people can be unaware of their condition for years, because hepatitis C usually has no symptoms. That trend was reflected in the testing process locally. On May 19, certified letters were mailed to 936 patients who could have been exposed to hepatitis C by the former employee’s suspected actions. More than 80% of these patients agreed to be tested. Of those, 27 tested positive for past or present infection. Of the 27 samples that tested positive, 12 samples that had virus present were sent to the CDC for genetic testing. The genetic testing did not establish a link between these patients’ virus and PeaceHealth.

“We’re grateful to Clark County Public Health for their excellent support throughout the investigation,” Johnson said

 

“Test results have not indicated any exposure of patients to hepatitis C at PeaceHealth Southwest.”

Sy Johnson, Chief Executive Officer, PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center