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Hepatitis C cases spur accord

A national accrediting body and the state’s Department of Health and Human Services have agreed to share information in an attempt to prevent infection control breaches such as those linked to a hepatitis C outbreak at a Las Vegas clinic.

Under the agreement, health and human services officials will be alerted when the accrediting body identifies patient safety breaches at a health care facility.

The move should improve the detection of conditions at a medical facility such as those linked to eight patients acquiring hepatitis C, officials said Tuesday.

It is believed the eight contracted hepatitis C because of unsafe injection practices at the Endoscopy Center of Southern Nevada.

After unsafe practices were documented in January 2008, health authorities advised more than 50,000 clinic patients to undergo testing for hepatitis and HIV.

The health division reached the agreement with The Joint Commission, an independent not-for-profit organization that accredits and certifies more than 15,000 health care organizations and programs in the United States, including hospitals and ambulatory surgery centers.

Martha Framsted, a spokeswoman for the state’s health division, said the state agency has reached out to 10 other accrediting organizations.

Six are working with the state’s health department, and the Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care is drafting an agreement, Framsted said.

The Joint Commission will share with the health division any complaints related to patient safety, as well as a schedule of its unannounced visits to health care facilities and any follow-up information.

Also, the commission will notify Nevada officials within two business days of any immediate threat to patient safety at an accredited facility.

A Joint Commission representative will make a presentation on the accreditation process to lawmakers at the state Legislature between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m. today.

In addition, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., will join several health care professionals for the launch of the national One & Only Campaign today in Washington, D.C.

The program is in response to incidents in Nevada and other states where thousands of patients of outpatient surgery center were exposed to blood-borne diseases because of unsafe injection practices. The campaign discourages the reuse of needles and syringes.

Dr. Lawrence Sands, chief health officer of the Southern Nevada Health District, also will be part of the campaign’s launch in Washington.

The Nevada State Medical Association is part of the Safe Injection Practices Coalition, which initiated the One & Only Campaign.

Contact reporter Annette Wells at awells@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0283.

By ANNETTE WELLS

LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL

A national accrediting body and the state’s Department of Health and Human Services have agreed to share information in an attempt to prevent infection control breaches such as those linked to a hepatitis C outbreak at a Las Vegas clinic.

Under the agreement, health and human services officials will be alerted when the accrediting body identifies patient safety breaches at a health care facility, officials said.

The move should improve the detection of conditions at a medical facility such as those linked to eight patients acquiring hepatitis C, officials said Tuesday. It is believed the eight contracted hepatitis C because of unsafe injection practices at the Endoscopy Center of Southern Nevada. After unsafe practices were documented in January 2008, health authorities advised more than 50,000 clinic patients to undergo testing for hepatitis and HIV.

The health division reached the agreement with The Joint Commission, which is an independent not-for-profit organization that accredits and certifies more than 15,000 health care organizations and programs in the United States, including hospitals and ambulatory surgery centers.

Martha Framsted, a spokeswoman for the state’s health division, said the state agency has reached out to 10 other accrediting organizations. Six are working with the state’s health department, and the Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care is drafting an agreement, Framsted said.

The Joint Commission will share with the health division any complaints related to patient safety, as well as a schedule of its unannounced visits to health care facilities and any follow-up information. Also, the commission will notify Nevada officials within two business days of any immediate threat to patient safety at an accredited facility.

A Joint Commission representative will make a presentation on the accreditation process to lawmakers at the state Legislature between 7 and 9 a.m. today.

In addition, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., will join several health care professionals for the launch of the national One & Only Campaign today in Washington, D.C.

The program is in response to incidents in Nevada and other states where thousands of patients of outpatient surgery center were exposed to blood-borne diseases because of unsafe injection practices. The campaign discourages the reuse of needles and syringes.

Dr. Lawrence Sands, chief health officer of the Southern Nevada Health District, also will be part of the campaign’s launch in Washington.

The Nevada State Medical Association is part of the Safe Injection Practices Coalition, which initiated the One & Only Campaign.

Contact reporter Annette Wells at awells@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0283.

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