Statement by State Health Commissioner Richard F. Daines, M.D.
Albany, N.Y. (November 14, 2007) - When the State and Nassau County Health Departments first became aware of two cases of hepatitis C related to a L.I. physician's practice, they took immediate action to identify patients at risk of infection because they had had injections from this doctor during the time period of the transmission. The Department first advised patients in May 2005 to be tested for hepatitis C, hepatitis B and HIV, all of which can be transmitted by blood.
The investigation identified 98 patients that were notified by letter of the need for testing due to possible risk of transmission, and 84 of them were tested by the state's Wadsworth lab utilizing a new testing procedure that had not been used before. Laboratory evidence from December 2005 found two hepatitis C cases.
The state health department promptly contacted the physician, who was then observed by the state and county investigators using improper infection control procedures. The doctor was immediately formally notified by the state to cease the improper infection control practices. The doctor was then instructed in the proper infection control procedures and has agreed to have his infection control procedures monitored by the state.
The Health Department then expanded its investigation to include all patients who had received injections from this anesthesiologist for the five years prior to January 15, 2005, when the state confirmed that the physician was practicing proper infection control practices.
The Health Department identified all patients who had received injections between January 1, 2000 and January 15, 2005 after a thorough review of medical records of this physician. These patients received letters this week advising them to be tested for hepatitis C, hepatitis B and HIV.
While chance of transmission is low, it is important that every patient be made aware of facts that might affect their health so that they can act appropriately.