MultiCare Auburn Medical Center has become aware of an employee in the Family Birth Center that was diagnosed with active tuberculosis. MultiCare is notifying specific patients who were treated in the Family Birth Center and employees who worked in the area over a five-month period. Public Health – Seattle & King County has determined the period of potential exposure is April 22 to Sept. 30, 2019.
A release from MultiCare states “the likelihood of transmission to patients and employees is low. TB is not easily spread and requires prolonged exposure.”
“Tuberculosis — also commonly referred to as TB — is a bacterial infection caused by a bacterium called Mycobacterium tuberculosis,” explains the MultiCare safety alert. “[It] is spread through the air when a person with active TB coughs, speaks or sings. Active TB disease is a serious illness, but it does not pass easily from one person to another, as it requires prolonged exposure. In this case, “prolonged exposure” is defined as eight or more cumulative hours of exposure in an enclosed area.”
Letters were sent out to 27 adult patients and the families of 26 infants, informing them of the potential exposure. Though MultiCare asserts the overall risk to these patients is low, testing is recommended for adult patients. MultiCare is offering testing at no cost to the impacted patients. Visitors who spent eight or more hours with notified patients “are also invited to get tested,” states MultiCare.
MultiCare is alerting the pediatricians of the impacted infants and recommending families following up with their doctor for an examination and screening.
“For MultiCare, there is no higher priority that the safety of our patients and employees,” said Dr. Arun Mathews, Chief Medical Officer at MultiCare Auburn Medical Center. “This situation is troubling to us but we are committed to ensuring TB testing and care for those who need it.”
An additional 107 MultiCare employees who worked in the Family Birth Center and met the criteria for exposure. These employees have been notified and testing has been offered by MultiCare.
Though the employee’s diagnosis was at the end of September, MultiCare learned of the employee’s diagnosis at the end of October. A thorough investigation was then performed by the Seattle & King County Public Health Department. This investigation determined the exposure period and those patients and employees who fit the exposure criteria.
According to MultiCare “the employee followed all MultiCare’s policies and protocols regarding TB testing and sought diagnosis and treatment immediately when they fell ill. The employee is still an employee of MultiCare, but has not worked since their diagnosis, and will not return to work until they are no longer infectious. There is no other evidence of TB bacteria exposure at the Auburn Medical Center campus.”
It is important to note that if you have not received a letter, you are not at any risk for exposure to TB as a result of this situation.