Patients of Abbotsford acupuncturist may have been exposed to Hep C, HIV

Acupuncture needles.
Acupuncture needles.

UPDATE: Deborah Hu has been allowed to go back to work and resume operations.

VANCOUVER – Patients who received acupuncture services at the Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine Centre in Abbotsford are being advised by Fraser Health to be tested for Hepatitis B, C and HIV.

A recent investigation at the centre found Duan (Deborah) Hu did not meet infection prevention and control standards during treatments. Fraser Health Public Health officials found a number of inadequate infection control practices that could increase transmission of blood borne infections.

“We were notified of a concern about inadequate infection control measures at the Centre. Our Environmental Health Officers immediately investigated the clinic,” says Fraser Health Medical Health Officer, Dr. Michelle Murti. “Based on the investigation of the Centre, we are alerting clients of Ms. Hu that they may be at increased risk of exposure to blood borne infections that can be transmitted by improper and unsanitary acupuncture techniques.”

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On Nov. 14 Hu’s license was suspended by the College of Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners and Acupuncturists of British Columbia pending the completion of an investigation and complying with certain requirements. The suspension came after the College sent an inspector to the clinic and found it in an unsanitary and unsafe condition.

81-year-old Hans Ewert says when he attended the clinic in August, it didn’t look clean.

“It was not very clean, she had acupuncture needles that did not look clean at all,” he says.

Ewert said he chose the clinic out of convenience — it was under directly under his doctor’s office.

He says he hasn’t suffered any issues since the visit but plans to visit the doctor as soon as possible.

“Infection prevention and control is a primary function of the College and it is our responsibility to take swift and effective action when a practitioner fails to deliver safe and responsible care. The mandate of regulated health professions in British Columbia is always to protect the public from risk of harm” said Dr. Mary Watterson, registrar of the college.

The clinic is located at #11 – 2168 McCallum Road in Abbotsford. More information on the health risks and the recommended testing is available on the Fraser Health website.