SEATTLE -- Seattle Children's Hospital is warning families of up to 12,000 patients who underwent surgery at its Bellevue Clinic that they could have been exposed to infection by improperly cleaned and sterilized equipment.
Hospital officials said Wednesday that patients who had a surgical procedure at its Bellevue clinic will need to be tested for hepatitis B and C, as well HIV. They say the risk to patients is extremely low.
The hospital is contacting patients of the clinic and offering a free blood test to those who may be affected.
The Seattle Times reports as many as 12,000 children and young adults treated at the clinic since 2010 could be at risk of infection from reusable surgical instruments that may not have been properly cleaned.
The instruments were used in a wide range of procedures at the clinic. The problem was discovered last Thursday during a routine inspection.
"We recently discovered that required procedures for cleaning and sterilizing surgical instruments at Seattle Children’s Bellevue Clinic and Surgery Center were not always followed," the hospital statement said.
"As a result, some patients who had a surgical procedure at Bellevue Clinic may need to be tested for hepatitis B and C, as well as HIV. The risk to patients is extremely low; however, we don’t know the exact risk to each patient. We are contacting patients and offering a free blood test to those who we think may have been affected.
"Our patients’ safety is our top priority and we are very sorry that this happened. We are investigating exactly how this failure occurred and expect the investigation to be complete this week," the statement said.
"In the meantime, affected equipment has been reprocessed, cleaning and sterilization processes have been verified, and we have implemented extra auditing procedures so that this type of breach does not happen again.
"We are also working with Public Health – Seattle & King County, the Washington State Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control to further protect the health and safety of our patients."
If you think your children may have been been affected and would like your child to be tested, call Seattle Children's hotline 1-855-855-8460