Nassau County and State Health Departments Alert 36 Patients to Infection Control Error by Long Island Doctor

ALBANY, N.Y. (Jan. 15, 2008) –Thirty-six patients of Nassau County obstetrician/gynecologist E. Jacob Simhaee will receive letters this week alerting them to an infection control error that occurred when they got flu shots last fall at his office at 1201 Northern Blvd., Manhasset.

The error, which involved reuse of syringes, but not needles, containing influenza vaccine for multiple patients, occurred between September and December 2007. No disease transmission of any kind has been identified.

In the investigation that began a month ago, the New York State Department of Health and the Nassau County Department of Health determined that a single syringe was, at times, used to hold up to six doses of flu vaccine, with fresh needles used for each patient. Standard infection control procedures require that a new syringe be used for each patient as well.

Dr. Simhaee and his staff have assisted the departments' action to identify at-risk patients and actively contact, counsel, and facilitate testing to ensure proper management of this incident. All patients determined to be at risk are being notified by phone and by letter of the lapse in proper vaccination technique. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said that the risk of transmission of the blood-borne diseases hepatitis B and C and HIV is believed to be extremely low in such a case.

The state and county health departments recommend that these patients be tested for the three viruses and re-vaccinated against the flu. The vaccine may not be as effective as it would have been if all infection control standards had been followed. Dr. Simhaee is offering testing and re-vaccination in his office.

The Health Department noted that Dr. Simhaee cooperated fully with the patient notification effort. State health officials approved the letter Dr. Simhaee mailed to his patients, provided fact sheets on the viruses and will confirm receipt of the letters.

The State Health Department is reviewing the content and frequency of the current required infection control training certification to make it more effective.