California hospital probes hepatitis C, HIV exposure from pain clinic

Coalinga (Calif.) State Hospital recently informed patients of possible exposure to hepatitis C and HIV through the hospital's pain clinic, radio station KVPR reported May 25.

The psychiatric facility run by the state is working with the Department of State Hospitals to investigate the incident and test patients who may have been exposed.

"Given that we have had several hundred patients visit the clinic, we are set to begin testing for Hepatitis and HIV for all patients who utilized those services within a specific target window," Chief Psychologist Cory Fulton, PsyD, said in an email to KVPR.

The department confirmed there were a small number of patients who tested positive for hepatitis C. 

"They are currently being treated. We are offering testing to additional patients who may be at risk for exposure," the department said in an email statement to KVPR. "At this time, it appears the event has been isolated and contained."

An email to one patient who may have been exposed said contaminated needles may be to blame.

Patients are committed to the hospital by the court system, some for decades, and have no choice but to use the healthcare options provided by the hospital, the report said. The pain clinic provides therapies including nerve blocks, Botox injections and regenerative medicine treatment.

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