by: Graham Johnson Updated:
BELLEVUE, Wash. - Seattle Children's Hospital is notifying 12,000 families after finding some surgical equipment in Bellevue was improperly sterilized under guidelines set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Families are asked to come in for blood tests for HIV and hepatitis. The hospital spokeswoman describes the risk of HIV or hepatitis B or C as “extremely low.”
However, those reassurances do not make this any easier for the families concerned about the welfare of their children.
“This should not be something that happens at Children’s Hospital,” said Yvonne McPherson. “It’s very scary.”
McPherson is not waiting for a letter. She made an appointment for her son to see a doctor immediately.
Seattle Children’s is notifying families of all 12,000 patients at the Bellevue surgery center over its five-year history.
The cause of the problem is under investigation and the equipment in question has been taken out of service. A hospital spokeswoman did not elaborate on what the specific equipment was.
At a news conference, doctors said the machines that steam surgical tools at a temperature that kills viruses were still working properly. Plus, it is unlikely the equipment was contaminated with HIV in the first place. That's why the risk is being called “very low.”
“What you’re hearing this is an extreme level of caution,” said Seattle Children’s CEO. “We’re not aware of any patients (infected) but we’re not going to take chances.”
Seattle Children's provided this phone number for people who wanted to call with concerns: 1-855-855-8460.