9 Investigates: Atrium Health alerts man to possible HIV exposure a year after procedure

CHARLOTTE — A man in Charlotte says he had a urology procedure at Atrium Health a year ago, but a message this week from Atrium Health came with a startling surprise: a potential exposure to life-changing viruses.

9 Investigates has been looking into his story since he got the notice.

“I was exposed, potentially, to Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, and HIV,” the patient told Channel 9′s Hannah Goetz.

The patient, whose identity isn’t being released by Channel 9, says his Tuesday morning started like any other until he received a call from the Atrium Health Urology Kenilworth Office. During that call, he was told he was potentially exposed to the viruses during a procedure a year ago because of equipment not being properly sanitized.

“And after that, they didn’t answer any more of my questions,” the patient told Channel 9.

His medical chart with Atrium Health says he was notified of exposure to potentially hazardous bodily fluids.

Now, he’s worried not only for himself, but for his wife and baby daughter, who was born this year.

“I couldn’t sleep,” the man said. “Still haven’t slept much since.”

Channel 9 reached out to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services about the incident. We received an email saying NCDHHS was notified of the possible breach on October 27.

“NCDHHS was notified of this possible infection control breach and discussed the situation and patient notification plans with Atrium Health. Questions about this specific issue should be directed to Atrium Health,” the statement from NCDHHS said.

But that doesn’t alleviate the patient’s worry that he’s not the only one exposed. He says he wants someone to be held accountable, and he’s using his experience to help any others who may have been impacted.

“Who else is going to test positive? I want to make sure they need to go get tested,” he said. “That’s what I’m trying to do, get the word out there and be a voice for them and make sure everything get done the right way.”

Channel 9 contacted Atrium Health with numerous questions about the incident. We received a statement at 3 p.m. Thursday.

“During a recent quality assurance audit, we discovered that certain cleaning and sanitization logs we require were not being accurately kept within a urology practice at our Kenilworth facility,” said a statement from Atrium Health. “Because of this, we can’t verify that all of the necessary steps were taken to make sure equipment used in treatment was ready for patient use. We are reaching out directly to patients who may potentially have been affected and have also taken the necessary steps to prevent it from happening again.”

The patient got tested and ended up getting his results on Thursday. He says he’s relieved to say his test came back negative for HIV, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C. But he feels he’s not in the clear just yet.

We still don’t know how many patients were impacted by the inaccurate sanitization logs or if any of them contracted diseases. 9 Investigates is still digging into the situation, and we’ll let you know as we find out more.

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Hannah Goetz

Hannah Goetz, wsoctv.com

Hannah is a reporter for WSOC-TV.