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SEATTLE – (June 17, 2016) – Virginia Mason has begun contacting nearly 650 individuals treated in the medical center’s dialysis unit since February 2011 because they may have been near another dialysis patient who was hepatitis B-positive.

The individuals are being informed of this situation and encouraged to contact their health care provider to determine their hepatitis B status or need for further screening. Virginia Mason is offering to assist in the screening process, if needed.

“The risk of exposure to hepatitis B was very low because of our other infection-control safeguards,” said Cyrus Cryst, MD, section head, Nephrology. “Out of an abundance of caution, we are informing patients of the situation, explaining there was a minimal risk of exposure for them and letting them know we are a ready resource for any questions they have. Patient safety is always our top priority.”

Current and former dialysis patients at Virginia Mason may call 1-877-255-3793 to speak with a medical expert at Virginia Mason.

Virginia Mason has added a feature to the electronic medical record that now automatically orders a hepatitis B screening for dialysis patients. This step ensures each patient’s hepatitis B status is current. It also alerts the care team to appropriately isolate an individual who is hepatitis B-positive during dialysis. Virginia Mason collaborated with Northwest Kidney Centers, which provides dialysis services at the medical center, to strengthen patient safety measures.

Public Health-Seattle & King County and the Washington State Department of Health were notified of the situation by Virginia Mason.

Hepatitis B is a blood-borne virus that ranges in severity from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a chronic liver condition. The prevalence of hepatitis B has declined in recent decades and is now seen in approximately one percent of dialysis patients in the United States.

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About Virginia Mason Health System
Virginia Mason, founded in 1920, is a nonprofit regional health care system based in Seattle that serves the Pacific Northwest. In the Puget Sound region, the system includes 336-bed Virginia Mason Hospital; a primary and specialty care group practice of more than 500 physicians; regional medical centers in Seattle, Bainbridge Island, Bellevue, Federal Way, Kirkland, Issaquah and Lynnwood; Bailey-Boushay House, the first skilled-nursing and outpatient chronic care management program in the U.S. designed and built specifically to meet the needs of people with HIV/AIDS; Benaroya Research Institute, which is internationally recognized for autoimmune disease research; and Virginia Mason Institute, which trains health care professionals and others from around the world in the Virginia Mason Production System, an innovative management methodology for continually improving quality, safety and efficiency. Virginia Mason online:

Media Contact:
Gale Robinette
Media Relations Manager
Virginia Mason Health System
(206) 341-1509

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