Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations
Oklahoma Hospital Where Nurse Reused Needles Expands Hepatitis C Testing to 1,220 Patients
Norman Regional Hospital in Norman, Okla., this week asked an additional 500 patients to undergo testing for hepatitis C after a nurse anesthetist last month admitted to reusing needles and syringes among patients at the hospital's pain clinic, the Daily Oklahoman reports. The request brings the total number of patients at risk for the virus to 1,220 (Killackey, Daily Oklahoman, 10/1). After the Oklahoma Department of Health last month released a report detailing that nurse anesthetist James Hill "regularly" reused needles and syringes among "at least" 15 patients per day at the clinic, the clinic initiated hepatitis C testing for people who were patients at the clinic between Dec. 31, 2001 and Aug. 19, 2002 (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 9/12). However, hospital officials decided to expand the at-risk pool to include patients who were seen at the clinic between May 1, 1999 and Dec. 31, 2001. On Monday, the facility sent letters to the 500 additional patients requesting that they return to the hospital to be tested. Dr. Thomas Kuhls, Norman Regional Hospital's chief of infection control, said that the hospital could not determine when Hill began "doing things abnormally," so the testing has been expanded to include everyone seen at the clinic since Hill began seeing patients in May 1999. So far, 52 patients have tested positive for hepatitis C, and 17 of those patients also tested positive for hepatitis B. Norman Regional Hospital officials have promised "the most up-to-date and effective [hepatitis C] treatment ... without charge to the patient and with no strings attached regardless of their ability to pay" for patients testing positive for the virus (Daily Oklahoman, 10/1).
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