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San Francisco hospital asks recent patients to get tested for HIV

Instruments used in exams did not go through final sterilization step

San Francisco's California Pacific Medical Center recently advised dozens of patients to get tested for HIV and other infectious diseases after hospital officials learned some equipment was improperly sterilized.

The examination instruments in question were used in procedures involving 198 people at the CPMC California Campus on California Street in San Francisco between July 2010 and February 2014, according to hospital spokesman Dean Fryer.

"We have since corrected our sterilization processes, informed the patients involved and discussed this matter in detail with their doctors," Fryer said. "The doctors were neither aware of nor responsible for this circumstance."

The instruments, used to examine the lungs or digestive tract, were the rigid laryngoscope, rigid bronchoscope and rigid esophagoscope, according to Fryer.

The equipment was washed by hand and processed through a decontaminator reaching temperatures of more than 200 degrees, he said. However, for unknown reasons the instruments were not subjected to a final sterilization step.

An evaluation by an independent infectious disease expert concluded the risk of disease transmission was very low, according to Fryer. However, the hospital has contacted affected patients and advised them to get tested for infectious diseases such as HIV and hepatitis as a precaution.

"We apologize to our patients and regret that this occurred," he said. "At CPMC, we remain dedicated to continuous improvement and committed to our patients."

A state Department of Public Health spokeswoman confirmed the agency had been notified of the issue, but said she could not comment on an ongoing investigation.

Bay City News contributed to this report.

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