More patients test positive for hepatitis in North Charleston clinic investigation

Staff Report
Published June 19, 2013

Twelve patients of Tri-County Spinal Care Center have tested positive for hepatitis B, and the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control cannot determine when those individuals were infected.

On May 17, DHEC notified the clinic of three patients who tested positive for hepatitis B after receiving injections at Tri-County. DHEC ordered the clinic to stop all invasive procedures and notified patients who received injections on certain days this year. Later that month, DHEC expanded its investigation to include all patients who received injections since 2011 and asked those patients to be tested for hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV.

DHEC contacted more than 500 patients who have received a spinal, joint or other injection from Tri-County Spinal Care Center in North Charleston since September 2011. The state agency reviewed the clinic’s infection control procedures and injection practices, finding the practices haven’t changed since the clinic began offering injections.

In a news release sent after DHEC announced the expanded investigation, Tri-County said the clinic is continuing to cooperate with investigators.

“We have always used sterile, single-use supplies for injections,” said Cameron Wills, a chiropractic physician at the clinic, in the release. “We do not reuse syringes or needles.”

A biomedical equipment technician has also inspected the clinic’s sterilization equipment, which has safety features that produce error codes if sterilizations aren’t successful, according to the release.

Previous coverage

State agency expands Tri-County Spinal Care Center investigation
North Charleston spinal care center cooperating with DHEC
DHEC shuts down Lowcountry clinic

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Added: 24 Jun 2013

there is a good chance those patients were Hep B positive all along and never knew about it.