NYC Health Officials Investigate Hepatitis Outbreaks for Possible Link to Providers’ Reuse of Contaminated Needles
The New York City Department of Health is investigating two recent hepatitis outbreaks that are "believed to be related to improper handling of contaminated needles, syringes and/or multiuse vials" by medical providers, according to an agency advisory, Newsday reports. The first outbreak, which was reported by city health officials in June 2001, involved eight people who had endoscopic procedures at the Bay Ridge Endoscopy and Digestive Health Center in Brooklyn and were subsequently infected with hepatitis C. After initial concerns that the endoscopy could be the source of the hepatitis C transmission, more than 2,200 patients who had undergone endoscopic exams at the clinic were tested for hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV. However, the endoscopy has been ruled out as the transmission source, according to the advisory. In the second outbreak, which was reported in January, 33 patients who received vitamin shots from Dr. Seymour Halpern at his Central Park West medical office in Manhattan were infected with hepatitis B, and more than 1,000 were urged to be tested for hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV. "Although the extent and cause of these outbreaks are still under investigation, both outbreaks emphasize the importance of adherence to infection control protocol in both inpatient as well as outpatient medical care settings," the health department advisory stated (Ramirez, Newsday, 3/13).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.