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Patients at Stittsville health centre possibly exposed to improperly cleaned equipment

Ottawa Public health have released a report Tuesday pertaining to a lapse of infection prevention and control at a Stittsville clinic.
Ottawa Public health have released a report Tuesday pertaining to a lapse of infection prevention and control at a Stittsville clinic. Science Photo Library / Getty Images

Ottawa Public Health announced Tuesday that patients who had some minor surgical procedures at the Main Street Family Medical Centre may have been exposed to improperly cleaned medical equipment.

According to Ottawa public health, it received a complaint about the clinic in April. It launched an investigation and told the clinic to cease all minor surgeries until further notice. So far, OPH says, it is not aware of any cases of infection.

OPH investigated the case with the help of Public Health Ontario and the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care. It said that around 4,600 patients who underwent some minor procedures between December 2003 and April 2018 may have been exposed to improperly cleaned reusable medical equipment.

“Although the risk is low, as a precaution, OPH recommends that patients who received a minor surgical procedure of concern at the clinic between December 2003 and April 25, 2018, undergo testing for hepatitis B, hepatitis C and Human Immunodeficiency Virus, abbreviated as HIV,” OPH said.

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The Main Street Family Medical Centre is contacting the estimated 4,600 affected clinic patients, who represent 5 per cent of the estimated 90,000 patients who were seen at the clinic since 2003.

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“The protection of the public’s health is our top priority,” said Coun. Shad Qadri. “As soon as Ottawa Public Health identified the infection prevention and control lapse at the Main Street Family Medical Centre, they acted immediately to ensure no ongoing risk to the public.”

The procedures that concern OPH include:

  • Removal of a skin tag, mole, or cyst using a blade or scissors
  • Skin biopsy
  • Incision, drainage, or packing of an abscess or cyst
  • Removal of an ingrown nail
  • Sutures or staples, or their removal
  • Foreign body removal

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A list of procedures that are not a concern have also been released:

  • Injections (e.g., vaccines, vitamin B12, anti-inflammatories, steroids)
  • Blood drawing
  • Removal of a wart or skin lesion using liquid nitrogen (freezing) spray or swab
  • Pap test, endometrial (uterus layer) biopsy
  • Swabs (e.g., throat swabs, nose swabs, testing for sexually transmitted infections)

The letter being mailed out repeats the concerns released by OPH as well as a laboratory requisition that the patient can take directly to any laboratory to be tested.

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According to Dr. Dr. Geneviève Cadieux, who lead the OPH investigation, the clinic is now properly cleaning the equipment and are allowed to continue with several procedures. One deficiency that remains is for that of what the doctor calls a “needle driver” which is used in sutures.

“For some people in our community, this information may create concern,” said Dr. Geneviève Cadieux from OPH. “I want to assure residents that, at this time, Ottawa Public Health is not aware of any case of infection associated with this infection prevention and control lapse.”

The doctor also said that there are no fines associated with the lapse but as there were licensed medical professionals involved the respective colleges of nurses/doctors have been informed and are in the process of their own investigations.

Anyone with concerns are encouraged to contact Ottawa Public Health at 613-580-6744 or at healthsante@ottawa.ca.