Dialysis Center Notifies Patients of Possible Exposure to Hepatitis C, Other Infections

Dialysis Center Notifies Patients of Possible Exposure to Hepatitis C, Other Infections

ALBANY, N.Y. (Jan. 14, 2009) - A Manhattan dialysis center is notifying patients after the facility identified, and a State Department of Health (DOH) investigation confirmed, one patient who contracted hepatitis C after undergoing dialysis there.

Approximately 170 patients of the Upper Manhattan Dialysis Center of Beth Israel Medical Center at 2465-67 Broadway in Manhattan are being notified in person or by mail that they may have been exposed to hepatitis C and possibly other bloodborne viruses while being treated at the facility.

"This situation is an example of infection prevention guidelines in action: frequent testing can quickly identify a problem. Steps can be taken right away to correct possible problems, and patients can be notified and tested," said Health Commissioner Richard F. Daines, M.D. He commended the facility on the completeness of testing and response. Patients who receive care at Upper Manhattan Dialysis Center are routinely screened for hepatitis B and C, both bloodborne viruses.

The transmission was identified after routine testing conducted by the facility identified a patient who became infected with hepatitis C while receiving treatment at the facility. DOH's investigation concluded that transmission had occurred at the dialysis center. The facility and DOH each conducted a thorough investigation that included an assessment of infection control procedures by a panel of independent experts. Neither assessment found major deficiencies, and the facility incorporated all of the experts' recommendations immediately.

DOH is recommending that only patients who were dialyzed at the Upper Manhattan Dialysis Center since February 2007 be tested promptly. Information packets are in the process of being delivered to all at-risk patients. Letters advise patients to get tested for the hepatitis C virus, hepatitis B virus, and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Testing can be done through the facility. There is no evidence at this time that any patient has contracted hepatitis B or HIV at the facility.

Hepatitis C is a liver disease caused by the hepatitis C virus and is spread by contact with the blood of an infected person. It is estimated that 1.6 percent of the population of New York State has been infected with hepatitis C.