- The Air Force Surgeon General said Monday that up to 135 patients may have been exposed to blood-borne illnesses at the Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar
- Air Force Medical Squad found that endoscopes used for upper and lower gastrointestinal procedures were improperly cleaned from 2008 – 2016
- During that time, 135 patients had procedures using those tools
- The risk of becoming infected with HIV, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C is still low though since service members are tested for HIV and Hep B
- Still, military officials have contacted those who had the procedures and told them to get checked for infection
Up to 135 patients at the Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar may have been exposed to HIV or Hepatitis B or C because of improperly-cleaned medical equipment, the Air Force Surgeon General said Monday.
The Air Force Medical Squad recently discovered that endoscopes used for upper and lower gastrointestinal procedures ‘were cleaned in a manner inconsistent with sterilization guidelines’ between April 2008 and April 2016.
During that time, 135 patients had procedures at the base’s hospital using those tools.
Up to 135 patients at the Al Udeid Air Base (the tarmac above in 2016) hospital in Qatar may have been exposed to blood-borne illnesses including HIV, Hepatitis B and C because of improperly cleaned equipment
The Air Force Surgeon General said Monday that endoscopes (stock above), which are used in gastrointestinal procedures, were improperly cleaned at the facility from April 2008 to April 2016
The surgeon general’s office told the Air Force Times that it’s possible the patients were exposed to blood-borne illnesses including HIV, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C.
However, Larine Barr, a spokesman for the surgeon general, said the risk of infection is ‘very small, particularly in a deployed environment’ where servicemen are tested for HIV and Hepatitis B.
Still, they said they have contacted the 135 people who had procedures and told them it was important to get tested for infection.
The U.S. shares the air base with the British Royal Air Force and the Qatari Air Force. It’s unclear whether any of the patients were from the UK or Qatar.
Brig. Gen. Robert Miller issued a statement on Monday apologizing to the patients.
‘Providing quality health care to our airmen and their families is our top priority,’ Miller said. ‘We apologize to our patients and assure them that appropriate actions have been taken to address and mitigate the causes that led to this problem.’
‘Our patients put their trust in us when they step into any of our medical facilities,’ he added. ‘We take potential risk to patient safety very seriously and are committed to informing those under our care of any increased risk.’
The Air Force has issued a service-wide patient safety alert, reminding medical workers of the proper processes for sterilizing equipment.
Endoscopies and colonoscopies are no longer performed at the the Al Udeid Air Base.