Hundreds of Quebec women undergo blood tests after improper equipment cleaning at hospital

Over 300 women will have to be tested for hepatitis, HIV, and other viruses following a discovery by health officials that hospital staff failed to follow proper disinfection procedure for certain gynecological equipment.

The 312 women will receive precautionary blood tests after the Riviere-du-Loup hospital had been incorrectly sterilizing some equipment between Jan. 1, 2011 and Nov. 15, 2017.

They also need to take a pap smear.

Risk of contracting an infection due to the mistakes by hospital staff is low. One in 100,000 to be exact.

The hospital had been washing the equipment using wipes, rather than dousing it in cleaning liquids.

Director of Professional Services at CISSS du Bas-Saint-Laurent, Dr. Jean-Christophe Carvalho, told CTV that this type of situation is rare.

It was alerted by the equipment’s manufacturer about the wrong cleaning method.

"In this situation, the company started a way of disinfecting it," he said. 

"In 2017, they worked with Health Canada and sent us a note about changing the disinfection."

Carvalho said that the new cleaning method would kill more bacteria and viruses.

"[Wiping the devices] isn't as intensive as letting them soak in a liquid and letting them soak for 10 to 15 minutes," he said. "This is a much more advanced way of disinfecting the equipment. We call it 'high-level disinfection.' It's much more effective and efficient."

The hospital said the blood tests would cost around $7,000.

With files from CTV Montreal.