More than 1,300 patients in a New Zealand hospital are being recalled after fears that endoscopic investigations may have left them with serious infections.
The patients will be tested for HIV, hepatitis B and C and tuberculosis after it was revealed that an irrigation pump on the autoscope cleaning equipment was not working.
This prevented disinfecting fluids and water from circulating through the endoscopes over a period of several months.
Staff are blamed for not following correct disinfecting and cleaning procedures. The formal report into the affair noted that "there was no formalised training in the unit, and there was inadequate recording of training and orientation, and. . . a deficient procedures manual".
Patients now face an agonising six month wait when repeat blood tests will be carried out, which will give a definitive answer on their condition (Lancet, 1999; 354: 578).