Date: Tue 12 Aug 2003
From: ProMED-mail <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Source: Ha'aretz, Tue 12 Aug 2003 [edited]
Israel: anesthetist suspected of infecting patients with hepatitis C
An anesthetist at Soroka Hospital in Be'er Sheva was interrogated by police on Tue 12 Aug 2003 on suspicion of infecting hundreds of patients with hepatitis C virus, which causes chronic liver disease. According to suspicion, the doctor, who was addicted to drugs and carried the virus, injected himself with anesthetics from the same syringe he later used to
anesthetize patients before operations, transferring the virus to them.
The investigation began after a family doctor in Be'er Sheva discovered that 3 of his patients were infected with the virus after undergoing fertility treatment at the hospital. The doctor reported his finding and the hospital began a probe into the affair. The hospital plans to establish an information center that will call in the hundreds or thousands of patients who underwent treatment there to undergo blood tests.
"Police have launched an investigation and the suspect has been taken into custody for questioning," police spokesman Itai Dotan said. According to a statement from the hospital, the case was discovered last week after 6 patients were found to be carrying the virus. The hospital then examined their medical records, which revealed that all had undergone surgery with the same anesthetist. The doctor, who was not identified, participated in
989 operations during the 22 months he worked at the hospital, the hospital said. Hospital director Eitan Hai-Am told Army Radio that letters had been sent to all 989 patients inviting them to come for blood tests for the virus. He estimated that dozens could be infected.
"One of the possibilities is that before an operation he would draw some of the anesthetic, inject himself with some and then inject the patient with the rest," Hai-Am told the radio. Police criticized the hospital for filing a complaint against the doctor a month after he was fired.
(byline: Ran Reznick and Tsahar Rotem)
[Hospital-associated transmission of hepatitis C virus is not unknown, but the suggested mode of transmission of infection in this instance is bizarre and thankfully rare. Several ProMED-mail staff think they have heard of such an incident before and would be grateful if a subscriber could remind us of the details. Further information on this incident is awaited. -
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