Rockland Patients May Have Been Exposed to Hepatitis

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    AP
    Hepatitis B virus

    Patients who had their blood sugar tested at Rockland Psychiatric Center last year are being advised to get tested for possible exposure to hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV after an investigation found that finger stick pens were being used on more than one patient, state health officials said Tuesday.

    The investigation was launched after a patient who was treated last summer at Rockland Psychiatric Center tested positive for hepatitis B, according to the Department of Health. 

    Investigators found that finger stick pens were being used on more than one patient. The pens are used to get a drop of blood for checking patients' blood sugar levels.

    The lancet sharp part of the pen with the needle was not used for more than one patient, but blood can contaminate the barrel of the device. There is a risk of spreading infections when any part of the pen is used for more than one patient, the state said in a press release.

    The investigation discovered that a second patient with chronic hepatitis B had been treated at the center as the same time as the first patient.  The viruses of the two patients were identical, according to a analysis performed by the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta.

    Both patients had received finger sticks with a shared pen while at Rockland Psychiatric Center; however, investigators could not determine with certainty that the infection was transmitted by use of a pen.

    Hepatitis B virus can be transmitted by blood-to-blood or blood-to-mucous membrane exposure, or by sexual contact, state officials aid.

    The Department of Health said no other cases have been found, but the recommendation of testing is standard procedure after such an incident.

    Patients with questions can call Rockland Psychiatric Center toll-free at 1-888-240-5805 during regular business hours.