Patient concerned after potentially exposed to viruses during procedure at Atrium

CHARLOTTE — There is another patient who was potentially exposed to HIV and Hepatitis B or C during a urology procedure at Atrium Health.

It’s the latest development in a Channel 9 investigation that reporter Hannah Goetz has been digging into for weeks.


Goetz has heard from dozens of people who were told to get tested up to months after their procedures.

The latest patient, who goes by Jon, is very concerned because he’s immunocompromised.

This patient received a reactive Hepatitis B test after he was told that he was potentially exposed during an Atrium Health Urology procedure.

There is no way to know if his exposure happened at Atrium Health Urology, but the patient is concerned by his results.

“It feels like I had to kind of fish to get the little answers that I did,” said Jon.

The Atrium Health Urology Kenilworth patient said he received a phone call stating that he was potentially exposed to HIV and Hepatitis B and C and needed to be tested.

“There (are) a lot of feelings of fear, uncertainty,” the man said. “I already get a lot of help from my current immune system just to try and fight off everyday bugs. The last time I had strep throat, I was in the ICU for four or five days.”

Jon said his immune system is extremely compromised. He spends most days seeing doctors and has to be very careful with his health. He wears a mask in public and tries to avoid crowds.

He was shocked and scared to see “reactive” next to his Hepatitis B core test. He reached out to his doctor through the Atrium portal for an explanation.

“She is saying it shows I have active antibodies to fight Hepatitis but the virus, itself, tested negative,” he said. “So they are thinking I either had it or exposed to it enough to generate the antibodies to try to fight it.”

The man, like many others, had three separate tests done for Hepatitis B. The tests include a surface antigen, a core antibody and a surface antibody.

Goetz contacted an expert to get some answers.

“So it can be very confusing to people just to get a copy of their lab report and see things that look like they’re bad but in the case of Hepatits B, it may not mean that,” said Dr. Scott Curry, an assistant professor of medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases at the Medical University of South Carolina.

Curry says diagnosing the viruses can be very difficult.

“When it says reactive, what does that mean? It depends on the test but HIV and Hepatitis C, it’s really easy,” Curry said. “Reactive is the same as positive. Hepatitis B is a little trickier because there are different components to testing.”

Curry said the different combinations of results for Hepatitis B can mean very different things.

He said this is why it is very important that patients with reactive results talk to their doctors.

“They should be asking themselves, ‘What am I going to do differently based on this test?’” Curry said. “For the Hepatitis B, then it gets a little more complicated. Do you know that you are sending the right ones? Is this going to detect if I was vaccinated or actively infected or both? And then it becomes a really important time for you to figure out with your physician. What are you testing for and what are you going to differently based on which of these is reactive? And if they don’t know the answer, they need to find someone who does, because Hepatitis B is very tricky. It’s not curable but it’s treatable.”

Channel 9 has heard from more than 90 people who’ve been potentially exposed and who have repeatedly taken their concerns and questions to Atrium Health.

A spokesperson said Tuesday they’re in contact with the patients directly and, at this point, they don’t plan to release more details.

VIDEO: Doctor discusses urology sterilization amid possible virus exposures at Atrium Health

Hannah Goetz

Hannah Goetz, wsoctv.com

Hannah is a reporter for WSOC-TV.

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