In October, we brought you the story of Dr Christiane Farazli, an Ottawa doctor whose privately run clinic was shut down after an inspection found that she was not properly cleaning equipment between colonoscopies and endoscopies. The fault in her cleaning procedures was found during a routine inspection earlier in the year, with the clinic shutting down shortly thereafter. Because they could not determine how long the cleaning issues had gone on, all patients who had undergone a procedure in Farazli’s clinic for the last 10 years – some 6,800 people – were warned that they were at a minimal yet present risk of having contracted blood-borne diseases such as HIV or Hepatitis during their procedure.
Over the last month, nearly half of Farazli’s former patients have been screened for these infectious diseases. Yesterday revealed that at least three people have tested positive for Hepatitis C — a serious and potentially debilitating disease that can lead to liver swelling, cirrhosis and even death. And it’s very possible that these patients were exposed to the virus during a colonoscopy or endoscopy at Farazli’s clinic, undertaken with dirty equipment. The very person who was supposed to be protecting their health was the one to put them at risk.
While these patients have revealed their test results in the aftermath of the Farazli Clinic scandal, proving their infections came from Farazli’s clinic may be difficult. This virus can be transmitted in a number of ways, Furthermore, it’s entirely possible that a patient may have come in to the clinic with a pre-existing infection – and even, through improper sterilization techniques, had their virus passed on to someone else.
The investigation is ongoing, as public health receives test results from Farazli’s patients and determines the full scope of the problem. A class-action lawsuit has also been launched against Farazli by former patients. Farazli herself, meanwhile, is practicing again in her clinic with (presumably) clean equipment, but with a long legacy of broken trust and frightened, angry patients looking for answers.
Photo Credit: Pupismyname on Flickr