The Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville has decided full disclosure is the best policy and is sending letters to 3,209 patients warning they may have been exposed to hepatitis C in the hospital, according to First Coast News.
A former employee at St. Luke’s Hospital and Mayo, radiologic technologist, Steven Beumel, 47, has been arrested and charged with stealing drugs from the hospital. Beumel admitted to police he is addicted to the narcotic, fentanyl, and injected himself with a dosage intended for patients. In doing so, he replaced the needle and filled the syringe with saline. A minute amount of blood remaining on the syringe is all that would be needed to transmit hepatitis C.
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He reportedly did not know he had hepatitis C and the hospital and public health officials have traced three of the five cases to Beumel. In the other two cases, it is unclear how the patients contracted the disease. One patient has died.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the state health department was aware of the high numbers three years ago but was unable to pinpoint the source until recently.
Patients who receive the letter from Mayo will be tested for hepatitis C, which is an incurable liver disease.
The 3,209 patients inside this “circle of risk” are an example of healthcare acquired infections, which are entirely preventable.
A 1999 Institute of Medicine report found that medical mistakes kill anywhere from 44,000-98,000 hospitalized Americans a year. Adverse drug events cause between 380,000 to 800,000 reactions per year. If all medical errors in Florida and throughout the nation as well as infections were tracked by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), this number would top the list of accidental deaths, including car accidents, poisoning, firearms deaths, and falls.