Two months after having an endoscopy for her nose and throat Joan Dudoward received a letter from Northern Health telling her that the endoscope used was not cleaned properly.

VIDEO: Prince Rupert woman treated with unclean medical equipment, Northern Health, B.C. Centre for Disease Control confirms more than a hundred affected

Two months after having an endoscopy Joan Dudoward received a letter telling her that the endoscope used was not cleaned properly.



A routine check-up at the hospital has turned into a nightmare for a Prince Rupert woman.

A month-and-a-half after having an endoscopy to inspect her nose and throat, Joan Dudoward received a letter from Northern Health stating that the endoscope used at the Prince Rupert Regional Hospital was not cleaned properly.

From April until the end of June 2016, the endoscope, which is a flexible tube with a light and a camera used in nonsurgical procedures, was being cleaned with the wrong cleaning solution to disinfect the equipment. There were 104 patients affected and Dudoward was one of them.

“I was majorly stressed out,” she said in an exclusive interview with the Northern View. “I’m a cancer survivor. I try to keep my health up for my mom, I’m a caregiver for a 95-year-old woman.”

Dudoward had gone to the Prince Rupert hospital for an endoscopy on June 29 at 3:30 p.m. after complaining to her physician about reoccurring plugged ears and a sore throat. She received the letter from Northern Health on Aug.24, which stated the error did not impact the diagnostic outcome of the tests and the process error has been corrected.

The letter also states that the BC Centre for Disease Control has been consulted and “the risk of a patient being exposed to a virus as a result of this process error is extremely low.” The contact number for the director of acute care services is offered in case she has any other questions or concerns. Dudoward has many.

She called to find out why the instrument wasn’t cleaned, what had happened and how many people had gone through the procedure before and after her. “She said she’s not permitted to tell me anything about this,” was the response Dudoward said she received.

The letter from Northern Health Joan Dudoward received in the mail Aug. 2 about a medical procedure she had done on June 29.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The vice-president of medicine for the Northern Health authority, Dr. Ronald Chapman, was quick to respond to media inquiries and stressed the importance of transparency. He said, based on previous experience, once they realized the mistake had occurred they consulted the BC Centre for Disease Control as well as the Northern Health infectious disease specialist in Prince George.

“The risk for the patient is extremely low. We’re not concerned that it will at all have any negative impact on their health,” Dr. Chapman said. He added that it’s Northern Health’s policy to make patients aware even if the risk to them is low. “We believe it’s important to be open with those patients and to be fairly transparent so at least they are aware of the mistake. In this case, we don’t recommend any particular follow up or tests for the patients.”

This type of process error has happened before, Dr. Chapman confirmed. Not with the same scope, but he said there are many different endoscopes used and each are made by different manufacturers that have various recommendations on how to clean the equipment.

“The health sector is run by human beings and it’s fairly complex. If mistakes do happen what we encourage our staff to do is to make management aware so they can learn from that experience,” he said. “I’m happy to say where those mistakes have happened in our environment, a process has been put in place and we haven’t had any repetitions after some of those learning experiences.”

More answers from the Provincial Health Services Authority

Provincial Health Services Authority spokesperson Lesley Pritchard explained that from time to time health authorities consult with epidemiologists and microbiologists from the BC Centre for Disease Control to assess the risk of disease transmission when there is an error in the recommended cleaning procedure. The medical instrument itself is not often examined because “you can’t go back in time to determine when any particular microorganism might have contaminated the instrument,” she said.

Instead, BC Centre for Disease Control considers the type of medical instrument and whether it is used on the surface of the body or if it is more invasive and likely to cause bleeding.

The endoscope used for the nose and throat at the Prince Rupert hospital in this case was deemed low risk because it doesn’t have a hollow channel and only the surface of the scope could be affected. There are also no sharp pieces on the scope and the risk of blood contamination is low compared with other types of scopes used in biopsies.

The letter Northern Health sent to patients stated there was a process error during the cleaning steps, which was unclear and left a lot to the imagination. The Provincial Health Services Authority was more specific and clear in what had occurred.

“The descaler solution that was used in place of the high level disinfectant itself has very strong antimicrobial properties, so although an incorrect product was used for cleaning, the product was likely effective because the viruses of concern HIV, hepatitis B and C are very easily killed,” Pritchard said.

For the 104 patients that were affected by this incident, Dr. Chapman said their general practitioners have been notified and if they have any questions they can speak to them and the infectious disease specialist. They can also contact Northern Health’s Patient Care Quality Office to register a complaint.

For Dudoward, who had a bone marrow transplant in 2011 to battle leukemia, she is concerned and has already scheduled a meeting with her physician in early September.

“I’m thinking that my body is not going to be able to fight off infection like I was able to before the cancer because chemo takes a lot out of your body so this is like a bomb exploding in my life,” she said.

 

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Upper Fraser Valley RCMP re-open community policing offices

CPOs have been closed for weeks in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, but re-opened Tuesday

RCMP ask for assistance to find missing Chilliwack man

Raymond Gene Jarvis has been missing since early July

Popkum fire chief urges caution after Saturday rescue from Bridal Veil Falls

11-year-old boy was stable, fire chief Walter Roos said, when delivered to a waiting ambulance

Chilliwack RCMP seeing surge in telephone-based tax scam

Victims are phoned by someone claiming to represent the Canada Revenue Agency, demanding money

Recent surge in COVID-19 cases not unexpected amid Phase Three of reopening: B.C.’s top doc

Keep circles small, wear masks and be aware of symptoms, Dr. Bonnie Henry says

UPDATE: Mission spray park closed after children suffer swollen eyes, burns

Mission RCMP are investigating incident that injured several children

B.C. NDP changing WorkSafeBC regulations to respond to COVID-19

Employers say reclassifying coronavirus could be ‘ruinous’

Baby raccoon rescued from 10-foot deep drainage pipe on Vancouver Island

‘Its cries were loud, pitiful and heartbreaking,’ Saanich animal control officer says

Statistical flaws led to B.C. wolf cull which didn’t save endangered caribou as estimated

Study finds statistical flaws in an influential 2019 report supporting a wolf cull

Surrey’s first Ethics Commissioner brings ‘objectivity’ to the job

Vancouver lawyer Reece Harding is Surrey’s first Ethics Commissioner, also a first for B.C.

Windows broken, racist graffiti left on Okanagan home

Family says nothing like this has happened since they moved to Summerland in 1980s

19 times on 19th birthday: Langley teen goes from crutches to conquering Abby Grind

Kaden Van Buren started at midnight on Saturday. By 3 p.m. he had completed the trek 19 times.

Professional basketball in Canada begins return to action with COVID-19 testing

Abbotsford’s Fraser Valley Bandits, six other CEBL teams arrive in Ontario for Summer Series

Most Read