MultiCare Auburn Medical Center notifying patients of potential tuberculosis exposure
MultiCare Auburn Medical Center in Auburn is notifying certain patients who were treated in the Family Birth Center and employees who worked in the area during a five-month period in 2019 that they were potentially exposed to tuberculosis (TB). The notification follows the confirmation that an employee at the hospital tested positive for the disease.
The likelihood of transmission to patients and employees is low. TB is not easily spread and requires prolonged exposure.
Public Health – Seattle & King County has conducted a thorough investigation and determined the period of potential exposure is April 22, 2019 to Sept. 30, 2019.
This week, 27 adult patients will receive letters sharing the situation and recommending they get tested. We also are informing the families of 26 infants that their baby also was exposed and recommending testing. While the risk of any of them contracting the disease from this exposure is still low, we are reaching out to these patients and families to alert them of this risk.
MultiCare is providing all 53 patients with TB testing free of charge and will help with next steps, which may include follow-up testing and treatment. Any visitors who spent more than eight hours with these patients in the Birth Center are also welcome to be tested.
MultiCare is alerting the babies’ pediatricians and recommending that their parents speak to their child’s doctor to discuss best next steps for monitoring for symptoms.
Patients who do not receive notification letters this week do not need testing. This is an isolated situation and the hospital is taking appropriate and responsible actions on behalf of patients.
“For MultiCare, there is no higher priority that the safety of our patients and employees,” said Dr. Arun Mathews, Chief Medical Officer at MultiCare Auburn Medical Center. “This situation is troubling to us but we are committed to ensuring TB testing and care for those who need it.”
In addition, we are notifying 107 staff who worked in the Family Birth Center when this employee was on duty and recommending testing.
There were additional individuals identified who had brief exposure to this employee in the five-month window. Because their exposure was very limited, they are not believed to be at risk, and testing is not recommended.
Tuberculosis is caused by an airborne bacterium that typically impacts the lungs. Not everyone who is infected with TB bacteria becomes sick. TB is not transmitted by touching tables and other objects that an infected person touched.
Tuberculosis is often treatable through medication. Medical providers can use a skin or blood test to determine if the infection is present. In 2018, 93 new cases of TB were reported in King County, for an incidence of 4.2 cases per 100,000.
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