Hepatitis and HIV Testing Urged for Beckley Clinic’s Stress-Test Subjects
Several viral hepatitis cases appear to be linked to cardiac stress tests administered in Beckley’s Raleigh Heart Clinic. Accordingly, state health commissioner Rahul Gupta recommended hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV screening for anyone who took a stress test at the clinic between March 1, 2012 and March 27, 2015.
Gupta’s letter, which was sent to approximately 2,300 Raleigh Heart Clinic patients, states that a total of 12 individuals have been diagnosed with hepatitis B or C infections after undergoing stress tests there. The letter also notes that those infected by these viral conditions may not have symptoms for many years. For that reason, patients are being asked to schedule screening either at the clinic, through a local health department, or with another healthcare provider.
The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources says that while observation of the clinic’s practices did not identify a clear mechanism to explain the outbreak, the virus might have been transmitted by injectable medications given during stress tests. According to Gupta, this may be traced to the re-use of needles or single-dose medication vials or failure to observe equipment and hygiene rules. Patients attending the clinic after March 27, 2015 are not considered to be at risk because of a switch to needleless injections on that date.
Hepatitis B and C are blood-borne viruses that are often transmitted though intravenous drug use and sexual contact and are frequently found in people who are also HIV positive. Both hepatitis B and C can lead to severe liver dysfunction, sometimes resulting in death.
If you have received the Department of Health letter on this matter or believe that you might have been infected at the Raleigh Heart Clinic, a West Virginia medical malpractice attorney with the Calwell Practice can review your situation and help pursue a possible claim against the responsible parties.