The Colchester East Hants Health Authority is notifying 256 patients and their doctors about transrectal ultrasound probes used in the urology clinic that may have been improperly disinfected.

CEHHA staff recently discovered that since early 2009, the products staff used to disinfect were not recommended by the manufacturer. The health authority stresses the probes were cleaned and disinfected properly between patients.

Dr. Manoj Vohra, vice-president of medicine for CEHHA, says cleaning the probes wasn't done to manufacturer's specifications.

"Part of the process is to use a disinfectant and there's different levels of disinfectant," he says. "The disinfectant we used was a mid-level disinfectant, as opposed to a high level disinfectant which the manufacturer recommends."

According to a CEHHA medical specialist’s review, it is unlikely that patients were exposed to any serious infections. Officials say a protective sheath is placed over each probe before use.

'We reviewed the whole situation with our infectious disease specialist to make sure risk to patients was very low.' - Dr. Manoj Vohra

As a precaution, all patients who underwent procedures using the probe during the period in question will receive letters and their physicians will be notified.

"We've actually gone back to identifying all the patients that would have had this procedure done," Vohra says. "Then what we've done is to make sure we've sent letters to all the patients to inform them of what had happened. We also made sure that we reviewed the whole situation with our infectious disease specialist to make sure risk to patients was very low."

Procedures for disinfecting the probes has been reviewed, staff trained and manufacturer recommended disinfection products are now being used.

Procedures were able to start again on May 29.

Patients who receive a letter are being asked to contact their family doctor with concerns.