Hepatitis Cased Linked to South Dakota Clinic

In April we wrote that alleged malpractice at the Siouxland Urology Center in Dakota Dunes, South Dakota appeared to be the culprit in exposing 6,000 patients to HIV and <"http://www.yourlawyer.com/topics/overview/hepatitis">hepatitis. Now, attorneys for the clinic’s former patients have said that some patients have tested positive for blood borne illnesses, reported KSFY.

As with a variety of other similar contaminations, Siouxland Urology allegedly reused single use medical products, potentially passing on serious diseases to other patients. In a similar case in which medical equipment was rinsed—not sterilized—shoddy colonoscopies and endoscopies at Veterans Administration facilities exposed over 10,000 military veterans to HIV and hepatitis B and C following exposure to tainted equipment, with a number of patients testing positive the pathogens. At least one patient consulted with malpractice attorneys and more are expected.

According to KSFY, five Siouxland Urology patients have filed a class action lawsuit and the attorneys involved say that some patients have tested positive for blood borne illnesses.

One patient expressed concern because although he tested negative, thus far, for hepatitis, he has to return in six months for additional HIV testing and is considering an individual lawsuit, said KSFY. HIV is the virus that causes AIDS.

In April we explained that South Dakota Department of Health inspectors—who are registered nurses (RNs)—noticed that a saline bag, on a pole in an examining room where a cystoscopy was going to shortly take place, was dated two days prior, according to Bob Stahl, from the South Dakota Department of Health, reported CNN. The RN inspectors questioned the staff who said that “they routinely reused saline bags and tubing,” had been doing so since the clinic’s opening in 2002, and did not understand why reusing one-time use medical supplies presented a problem, said Stahl, who noted that the bags and tubing clearly state “for single use only,” said CNN.

“They used the bags and tubing on multiple patients,” Stahl said, quoted CNN, adding that, “It was their standard operating procedure…. They told the inspectors that this was a common practice all over the country. We disagreed and told them this was not a common practice.” Reusing such supplies can enable patient bodily fluids to backflow into the saline bags and tubing.

“Siouxland Urology Center informed certain of its patients by U.S. mail that a prior cystoscopy procedure could have potentially exposed them to an infectious disease,” its Website said, according to CNN. The clinic’s clients are generally from South Dakota, Iowa, and Nebraska; the clinic is providing free blood tests to its potentially infected patients, said CNN.

HIV and hepatitis B and C are spread by contact with infected body fluids. HIV—the human immunodeficiency virus—is the virus that causes AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome); AIDS is the final stage of HIV infection. Hepatitis B and C are liver diseases that can lead to cirrhosis or cancer of the liver. Vaccines exist only for hepatitis B. HIV/AIDS and hepatitis B and C can all be fatal.

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