The Department of Health has completed its investigation into a cluster of hepatitis C cases linked to an anaesthetist at a private medical centre in Croydon.
Victoria’s Chief Health Officer, Dr John Carnie, said today more than 4,000 patients - including 3,000 from the Croydon clinic - had been contacted and tested for hepatitis C during the process.
“The patients, who had all undergone a procedure involving the anaesthetist, were advised by the Department of Health to be tested for hepatitis C,” Dr Carnie said.
“There have been 49 women in whom genetic sequencing of the virus linked their infection to the anaesthetist.
“All of these women had procedures at the Croydon clinic between January 2008 and December 2009.
“In a further 19 cases, initial testing indicated past infection with hepatitis C but the patients had either cleared the virus from their blood or there was insufficient virus present to make a definitive ruling.
“In addition there were 241 patients we have been unable to contact, despite repeated calls and registered letters.
“And there were another 247 cases where results have not been provided to the Department.
“The link between the cases and the anaesthetist was reported to Victoria Police and the Medical Practitioners Board of Victoria last year. The anaesthetist was suspended from practice and the police investigation is continuing.
“As an added precaution, we extended our investigation by contacting more than 1,000 patients who underwent procedures involving the anaesthetist at three other facilities between 2008 and 2009.
“These were the Fertility Control Clinic, St Albans Endoscopy Centre and the Western Day Surgery.
“There were no cases of hepatitis C which could be linked to the anaesthetist at any of these facilities. It is important to stress there has not been any hepatitis C risk to anyone undergoing surgery at any of these facilities.
“All patients had access to free testing and counselling. All women found to be positive were referred promptly for expert assessment and treatment.”
In the event that any new results are received by the Department, or any further patients from the Croydon clinic who were treated by the anaesthetist come forward, they will be followed up.
Dr Carnie said any concerned patient could contact the Communicable Disease Prevention and Control Unit on 1300 651 160.
Reviewed 16 May 2011