Two hundred and seventy patients are being asked to get tested for hepatitis B and C after being treated at a north Edmonton clinic. Problems were identified at the clinic because devices used in minor procedures like getting stitches, or having skin-tags or moles removed weren’t sterilized properly.
What is worrisome to the Alberta College of Physicians and Surgeons is the clinic was open for business for two years before they were notified and able to give an inspection.
The patients had invasive skin procedures done at the Northtown Medical Clinic at 140-9450 137 Ave from the fall of 2013 to November 2015.
“The two years is the time between the time the clinic opened and the time that we were notified that a new clinic had opened and we put it into our schedule,” Dr. Trevor Theman, the college’s registrar told a news conference. “There are somewhere around 40 or 50 new clinics that open in Alberta each year. As they get identified they get put in the list of clinics to be inspected.”
He said normally told of a new clinic, and are able to schedule an audit with in six months. “It’s just not a simple data base matter of identifying when a new practice opens,” said Theman “Or a new location opens is really the question. So we register physicians, we don’t register individual practices per se, but we recognize that it would be preferable for us to regularly have updated information as to practice location.”
Theman said the college has been in contact with the government and find ways to improve communication on new clinics. “The sooner the better. We don’t have an exact time frame. We have inspected over the last few years about 900 clinics or close to that so 40 or 50 a year it’s a matter of allocating the resources.”
Dr Theman said staff at Northtown are now using disposable instruments until they can prove proper procedures are in place.
Dr. Joanna Oda, Alberta’s medical officer of health, said Alberta Health Services has had no indication of any of the 270 patients suffering ill effects of any work they’ve had done on them from the sterilization problems. “Potentially they would be showing symptoms but again we have our usual regular surveillance for those two diseases and that has not identified any cases associated with this clinic and the risk of infection is considered very low,” she said.
The 270 patients are now receiving letters recommending they get a blood test.