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Patients at risk of disease following error at Seattle medical center

SEATTLE, Dec. 23 (UPI) -- Human error caused sterilization of equipment to be omitted, leaving 27 patients at risk of disease, Swedish Medical Center officials in Seattle said.

Hospital officials advised the patients to be tested for HIV and hepatitis B and C immediately and again in three months following the discovery ultrasound probes and other equipment, used for prostate procedures at the medical center's First Hill Campus, were not properly sterilized, KOMO-TV, Seattle, reported Monday.

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The risk of disease is very low, Chief Medical Officer Dr. John Vassall said, because a sheath covers the probe, adding, "We believe the device was used properly in all cases, and did not come in contact with patients."

A three-stage cleaning process normally takes place on the probe and although cleansing and decontaminating procedures were followed, the sterilization process was omitted, Vassall said.

There is no threat to other patients or to the public, the medical center said.

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