Putnam General Hospital, Hurricane, W.Va., said it notified nearly 1,400 patients who underwent endoscopic procedures that a slight flaw in the hospital's process for disinfecting endoscopic tubes might have exposed patients to an infinitesimal risk of infection. No patients have reported any infections, but they have been offered free counseling and blood tests, said Putnam Chief Executive Officer Dan Lauffer. At one step in the disinfecting process, a cleaning solution was not heated to the 95 degrees that the manufacturer calls for, Lauffer said. The improper heating of the solution appears to have started when a new machine and a new disinfecting solution were introduced in March 2003, Lauffer said. The patients who may have been affected were treated between March 2003 and September of this year. Lauffer said the process flaw was discovered during a review of hospital processes that he initiated when he took over as Putnam's CEO in September. The HCA-owned hospital reported the process flaw to the Putnam County Health Department, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations. The JCAHO had not responded to requests for comment by deadline. --by Vince Galloro
W.Va. hospital notifies patients on endoscopies
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