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Patients undergo HIV tests after soap mix-up

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Photo: Lugano Regional Hospital
10:43 CET+01:00
A hospital in Ticino has recalled 45 patients for HIV and hepatitis tests after it was found that equipment used during their treatment wasn't properly sterilized.

The patients could be at a “very small” risk of contracting hepatitis B and C and HIV, said Lugano Regional Hospital after the error involving endoscopy instruments at its Civic Hospital site during the week of February 15th.

According to the hospital, the instruments were washed incorrectly by a machine – twice with detergent instead of once with detergent and once with disinfectant – after a member of staff accidentally replaced a box of disinfectant with detergent.

“Although the high-temperature washing with soap represents the most important phase of the washing to act against infections, the use of disinfectant is to ensure the elimination of any remaining germs, even in small quantities,” the hospital said in a statement.

The 45 patients involved have been recalled for testing, although “the medical literature says that the risk is extremely low,” said the hospital.

Speaking to The Local, hospital spokesperson Mariano Masserini said the staff member involved had been temporarily suspended pending an internal investigation.

“Zero risk doesn't exist in any hospital,” added Masserini. “Our commitment is to reduce the risk to as close to zero as possible and learn from the errors in order to continually improve the security and the quality of the treatments for our patients.”

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The results of the tests are due in two to three weeks.

In its statement, the hospital apologized to the affected patients.

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