Ballad Health warns 100 patients of possible HIV, hepatitis exposure

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Johnson City, Tenn.-based Ballad Health has notified about 100 patients of a potential exposure to hepatitis A, hepatitis B or HIV due to improper medication practices, NBC affiliate WCYB reported July 23.

Patients who received care in a single patient unit at Johnson City Medical Center from May to July may be affected, though the risk of infection is extremely low, the health system said. 

In a statement shared with Becker's, Ballad said the medication incidents were traced to a nurse from a contract agency who is no longer permitted to work at the health system. 

"The violation was discovered due to the exceptional work of a longtime nurse who saw something unusual and reported it immediately to a superior," Ballad said in the statement. 

After learning of the violation, hospital leaders immediately removed the nurse, launched an internal investigation and notified the state health department, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and the district attorney's office. An investigation is ongoing. 

"Johnson City Medical Center is proud of the nurse who saw something and said something," the health system said. "The Ballad Health compliance program is established to ensure team members feel comfortable reporting when they see a violation of policy or anything that can impact patient safety. We are grateful for the example this nurse set. She is a hero, and we celebrate her professional act."

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