More than 1,500 patients who received treatment at a Stittsville medical centre have been tested for hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV by Ottawa Public Health after infection control lapses were discovered earlier this year.

The testing revealed that a handful of the patients are currently infected or potentially infected with hepatitis B or C (some need further testing). But a spokeswoman for Ottawa Public Health said they are satisfied those cases are not related to the lapses at Stittsville’s Main Street Family Medical Centre.

Ottawa Public Health investigated the clinic after receiving a complaint in late April. Investigators found lapses in cleaning and sterilizing. Findings included that medical instruments were being “inconsistently rinsed” with tap water instead of cleaning, or being put directly into a container with disinfectant without being cleaned. Investigators found no dedicated area for sterilizing instruments and that the autoclave, used to sterilize and disinfect instruments, was not being properly used.

Investigators also found that some single-use disposable equipment had been repackaged for use, that medications were not being stored properly, and urine testing was being done on the same counter as blood collection, medication preparation and medical instrument reprocessing.

There was further evidence of improper cleaning and hygiene throughout the clinic. The clinic was ordered to cease all medical procedures requiring sterile surgical equipment and to develop written infection control policies and to make various infection control changes. The clinic was inspected, hired a new environmental cleaning service, and allowed to resume some minor surgical procedures in June.

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