California hospital says endoscope was cleaned improperly for 7 years

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An endoscope used to conduct colonoscopies at Queen of the Valley Medical Center in Napa, Calif., was not cleaned properly according to manufacturer's specifications over a seven-year period, putting roughly 5,000 patients at increased risk of infection, according to a Napa Valley Register report.

The problem was uncovered as part of a review of cleaning procedures performed in August. Staff were soaking the scope in a sanitizing solution that was not at the temperature specified by the manufacturer, according to the report. Once the problem was discovered, it was immediately corrected.

Now, QVMC is offering free blood tests to any potentially affected patient, but maintains that the threat of infection is minimal and that no patient has reported any problems. Patients will receive letters in the mail within two weeks.

"We know our community depends on QVMC to provide safe and high-quality care, and in this case, we did not meet the high standards we hold ourselves to," Jack Cox, MD, CMO of the hospital's parent system St. Joseph Health, told the Napa Valley Register. "We take our patient safety standards and infection prevention procedures extremely seriously and sincerely apologize to anyone impacted — we can and will do better moving forward."

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