Philadelphia Inquirer (04.25.09) - Wednesday, April 29, 2009
An Atlantic City hospital recently notified New Jersey health
officials of five new hepatitis C virus infections among the
hospital's dialysis patients. The cases were discovered in
late March and early this month during federally required
annual HCV testing of all dialysis patients, and
administrators for AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center-City
Campus then alerted the state. The patients were infected
after they began dialysis treatment at the hospital, though it
is unclear whether the cases are linked to the facility, said
state Health Department officials.
"We told them we'd seen an increase and that we'd like them to
help us see what it could be," said Jennifer Tornetta, a
hospital spokesperson. AtlantiCare administrators did not
"make any presumptions about why we had these five cases,"
said another spokesperson, Rene Bunting. "That's why we
contacted the Department of Health."
After AtlantiCare reported the test results, the state asked
the hospital to review four years of its patient records, and
10 other HCV cases were found. The hospital said those 15 HCV
cases were from a total of 245 dialysis patients.
AtlantiCare, state and city health officials are now
performing an epidemiological study to determine the cause of
HCV transmissions among the dialysis patients. Such
investigations are complex, and finding the exact cause could
prove difficult. During the investigation, the AtlantiCare
dialysis clinic will continue to treat patients, Tornetta
said, adding, "We are taking every precaution."