Probe of hep­ati­tis out­break widens

Pa­tients who vis­ited a Santa Bar­bara doc­tor’s of­fice are urged to get tested for a num­ber of blood-borne ill­nesses.

Los Angeles Times - - OBITUARIES - By Veron­ica Rocha veron­ica.rocha @la­ Twit­ter: @Veron­i­caRochaLA

At least five pa­tients have tested pos­i­tive for hep­ati­tis C af­ter re­ceiv­ing in­jec­tions at a Santa Bar­bara med­i­cal of­fice, public health of­fi­cials said Tues­day.

Now the Santa Bar­bara County Public Health Depart­ment is urg­ing any pa­tients who vis­ited the of­fice of Dr. Allen Thomashef­sky to get tested for hep­ati­tis B, hep­ati­tis C and HIV.

Public health of­fi­cials per­formed two in­spec­tions at Thomashef­sky’s of­fice in Novem­ber af­ter they re­ceived in­for­ma­tion that a pa­tient with no known risk fac­tors de­vel­oped hep­ati­tis C fol­low­ing a visit. The pa­tient un­der­went mul­ti­ple in­jec­tions at the of­fice.

In­spec­tors ex­am­ined the of­fice and found un­safe prac­tices that put pa­tients at risk for blood-borne viruses as well as joint in­fec­tions, ac­cord­ing to the depart­ment. Public health of­fi­cials say in­spec­tors found that stan­dard in­fec­tion-con­trol pro­ce­dures were not prac­ticed.

The mul­ti­ple med­i­cal breaches led public health of­fi­cials to or­der Thomashef­sky to close his of­fice, which was done March 19.

Thomashef­sky did not im­me­di­ately re­turn re­quests for com­ment.

Thomashef­sky per­formed re­gen­er­a­tive in­jec­tion ther­apy, or pro­lother­apy, to treat pa­tients with chronic mus­cle or joint pain.

The Ore­gon Med­i­cal Board is also in­ves­ti­gat­ing the doc­tor and has limited his med­i­cal prac­tice there. Thomashef­sky, who has an of­fice in Ash­land, Ore., was or­dered April 14 to stop per­form­ing in­jec­tion pro­ce­dures.

Four of the five pa­tients who tested pos­i­tive for hep­ati­tis C had un­der­gone in­jec­tion pro­ce­dures at Thomashef­sky’s med­i­cal of­fice on the same day they be­came in­fected. Three pa­tients had no known risk fac­tors for hep­ati­tis C, an in­fec­tion that at­tacks the liver.

Public health of­fi­cials have per­formed 240 tests, and no pa­tients have tested pos­i­tive for HIV.

The depart­ment has been con­tact­ing pa­tients who re­ceived in­jec­tions at Thomashef­sky’s of­fice in the last seven years.

The Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion are also per­form­ing molec­u­lar ge­netic testing to de­ter­mine whether the hep­ati­tis C virus found in the in­fected pa­tients orig­i­nates from the same source.

The public health depart­ment and the CDC are in­ves­ti­gat­ing the cause of the out­break.

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