Dirty medical equipment used at a U.S. air base in Qatar over a period of eight years rendered it a hub of blood-borne diseases like HIV, Hepatitis B, and C, leaving around 135 people exposed, it was reported Monday.
The Air Force Surgeon General said endoscopes for upper and lower gastrointestinal procedures were found at the Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar which “were cleaned in a manner inconsistent with sterilization guidelines.” This is believed to have taken place between April 2008 and April 2016 during which 135 patients are believed to have had procedures where those tools were used, Air Force Times reported.
A service-wide patient safety alert was issued by the Air Force regarding the following of correct procedures for cleaning as well as decontaminating, inspecting and sterilizing endoscopes. The alert also applied to other reusable medical instruments and devices.
Current practices were also being reviewed to find better protocols to prevent such health hazards. The Al Udeid clinic will continue operating but the Air Force said it did not do endoscopies or colonoscopies anymore.
Patients potentially at risk were being notified by the Air Force Medical Service and provided with healthcare contacts to answer questions and help with medical counseling as well as testing. Three sets of contact information were given out for patients to get in touch with healthcare resolution specialists, depending on their location.
For patients in the Eastern Daylight time (EDT) zone or out of continental United States, the Air Force advised on calling (937) 656-3818. For Pacific or Mountain time zone, along with Hawaii and Alaska, it is (707) 423-3443. Central time zone meanwhile would mean patients should call (228) 376-5603.
Despite the Air Force’s service-wide alert, a spokeswoman for the Surgeon General, Larine Barr said the risk of infection was “very small, particularly in a deployed…