By the time it discovered the problem, the hospital had already conducted about 200 procedures using the improperly sterilized scopes. The hospital immediately stopped using the scopes, contacted the CDC, and learned that any risk of blood-borne infections was remote. The risk was so remote, that experts let Forbes know that it was unnecessary to notify patients.
But, "We knew we should do more," said Tony Farah, MD, chief medical officer of West Penn Allegheny Health System and Mark Rubino, MD, chief medical officer of Forbes Regional Hospital in a joint-article to the Pittsburg Post-Gazette earlier this month.
"We not only reviewed our procedures, we also elected to inform our patients. We made free testing immediately available around their schedules. We set up a toll-free number to answer questions and ensured a professional was always available to answer any questions."
Exeter did not have the luxury of choosing whether or not to inform its patients of the outbreak, but the hospital is going out of its way to make sure all patients, whether affected or not, are informed about the situation. It created a microsite dedicated to the Hep C outbreak with news updates, information about the clinical response team, and a Q&A section about the disease. Exeter's media representatives have also been forthcoming with information to news outlets.
This assures patients that the hospital is on top of the situation.