Q: Have the other Piedmont facilities (hospitals, outpatient centers, and physician offices) been assessed for proper sterilization techniques?
A: Since this discovery on April 18, Piedmont has been reviewing all cleaning processes across the system to ensure proper cleaning processes are being performed. There have been no other discoveries of this sort and we will be vigilant in our monitoring of these processes in the future.
Q: When did letters go out to patients?
A: Letters were mailed to patients on April 27, about one week after the assessment was complete. We moved as quickly as we could to verify the assessment, create an accurate patient list, set up testing and send the letters. The patients have been, and remain, our top concern.
Q: Who have you alerted to this discovery?
A: We have voluntarily reported our findings (and actions to rectify the situation) to the Georgia Dept of Public Health.
Q: How could this have happened?
A: It was a lack of communication and management oversight, and we are committed to ensuring it doesn’t happen again. Of course, right now our primary concern is addressing this with the patients who are affected.
Q: How many patients have called to request the testing?
A: As of May 8, more than 200 appointments were made and over 130 patients have had their blood drawn for testing.
Q: What are the chances that a virus was transmitted?
A: The chances of a virus being transmitted is extremely low – less than one in 1 million. But we have encouraged patients to be overly cautious and let us provide the testing to make sure.
Q: What is involved in testing?
A: The 456 patients who are impacted may schedule an appointment to have blood drawn for the testing. We will provide the results of those tests within 2-3 days and have nurses and physicians available to discuss the findings.
Q: Do you know if any of the patients who received colonoscopies had hepatitis B or C or HIV?
A: Our records are incomplete on this because each patient chooses whether to disclose this to their physician. Our records indicate there were patients who self-reported having HIV. We don’t really have any more information than that.
Q: Will Piedmont cover the cost of treatment for those patients who do test positive?
A: Yes, we will pay for treatment for any patient that was transmitted the virus at our surgery center.
Q: Should all Piedmont patients be concerned?
A: Absolutely not. We have nearly two million patient visits every year across our system and this situation, while regrettable, only affects a very small group. You should only be concerned if you had a colonoscopy at our Piedmont West Surgery Center (on Howell Mill Road) between May 2011 and April 2013. All of those patients have been sent letters. If you have not gotten a letter, you are not one of those patients and do not need to be tested.
Q: How many colonoscopies does Piedmont do?
A: Since the outpatient surgery center at Piedmont West opened in May 2011, Piedmont performed nearly 17,000 colonoscopies across the system. The approximate 450 of those performed at Piedmont West represent less than 3 percent of all colonoscopies performed by Piedmont.
Q: What types of surgeries are performed at the Piedmont West Surgery Center?
A: In addition to colonoscopies, surgical procedures that take place at Piedmont West include: general, plastic, vascular, gynecologic, orthopedic, urologic, and ear, nose and throat, as well as in such specialties as ophthalmology, podiatry, and gastroenterology.