A joint investigation by the College of Physicians & Surgeons of Alberta (CPSA) and Alberta Health Services (AHS) found inadequate reprocessing and sterilization of medical devices at the Northtown Medical Clinic (140-9450 137 Ave NW, Edmonton) may have put specific clinic patients at risk of infections such as Hepatitis B and C.

Image/Public domain photo/John Fowler via Wikimedia Commons
Image/Public domain photo/John Fowler via Wikimedia Commons

The risk of infection is considered low and associated only with skin-invasive procedures. As such, AHS is recommending simple blood testing for 270 patients who underwent skin-invasive procedures during the period of risk. Those potentially at risk will be informed by letter, mailed by AHS on July 14, 2016. Only those individuals who receive these letters have been identified in the investigation as potentially at-risk, and require testing.

To prevent the spread of infection from one person to another, equipment used in minimally skin-invasive procedures (such as mole removals, skin biopsies and stitching of minor wounds), must be reprocessed and sterilized to specific standards. Any breach of these standards can put patients at risk.

Inadequate reprocessing procedures at the Northtown Medical Clinic were first identified during a scheduled medical device reprocessing audit conducted by CPSA in November 2015. Concerned with the findings of this audit, the CPSA issued a Stop Reprocessing order to the clinic within 24 hours and alerted AHS Public Health to the potential issue. AHS Public Health conducted an inspection, and together with the CPSA, determined that a full Risk Assessment Panel (RAP) investigation was necessary.

AHS’ Risk Assessment Panel (RAP) conducted an intense and thorough investigation, which concluded in late June 2016. The notification of at-risk patients aligns with the RAP findings and recommendations.

At this time, there are no confirmed cases of illness associated with the previous inadequate sterilization processes at this clinic. The clinic presents no ongoing risk to patients single-use instruments are now used for all skin-invasive procedures. This clinic has also passed subsequent AHS inspections.

The Northtown Medical Clinic (#140, 9450-137 Ave, NW, Edmonton) is an independent family practice, not associated with AHS.