VA Issues Warning for Biopsy Infection Risk

VA Issues Warning for Biopsy Infection Risk

The Portland Veterans Affairs Medical Center is issuing a warning to thousands of prostate biopsy patients nationwide who may be at risk of infection for hepatitis or HIV/AIDS.

The VA began sending letters to 2,270 patients on Tuesday after discovering that a device used during prostate biopsy procedures may not have been properly sterilized.

The manufacturer’s guidelines for cleaning the device, the VA found, do not ensure totally sterile conditions. The improperly sterilized device could be contaminated with body fluids containing a number of deadly viruses.

The device is the most commonly used probe for prostate biopsies and has been in use since 1992. Last month, 154 VA hospitals suspended use of the device until new sterilization guidelines could be developed.

The VA has set up a toll-free hotline for the at-risk patients and is offering them free blood tests.

So far, there are no known cases of positive hepatitis of HIV infection in these patients. VA officials said they believe the risk to be minimal. However, the Director of the VA Medical Center in Portland admitted that they “don’t really know.”

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