Ottawa private clinic behind hepatitis, HIV scare

The College of Physicians and Surgeons says it is investigating a doctor who operates a private Ottawa clinic that might have exposed almost 7,000 patients to hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV.

Thousands possibly exposed to HIV, hepatitis B, hepatitis C over the past 10 years

RAW: Private clinic named

11 years ago
Duration 8:35
Ottawa's chief medical officers speaks about the private Ottawa clinic where 6,800 patients could have been infected by hepatitis and HIV.

The College of Physicians and Surgeons says it is investigating a doctor who operates a private Ottawa clinic that might have exposed almost 7,000 patients to hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV, it was announced Monday.

Public health hotline

Ottawa Public Health has set up an information line at 613-580-2888 for patients who receive letters.

People who underwent an endoscopy between April 2002 and June 2011 and do not receive a letter by Tuesday, Oct. 25 are also advised to call the information line.

The phone line is open from:

  • 8:30 a.m. to midnight from Monday to Wednesday this week.
  • 8:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. on weekdays thereafter.
  • 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on weekends.

The investigation of Dr. Christiane Farazli follows an inspection of the independent clinic in late May by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario.

Ottawa Public Health said the concerns surround endoscopies, a procedure in which a medical instrument is used to examine the interior of a hollow organ or cavity of the body.

Dr. Isra Levy said some infection prevention and cleaning protocols were "not always followed" at the clinic located at 1081 Carling Ave., Suite 606.

Following the college's inspection and a local investigation by OPH starting in June, registered letters were sent Monday to about 6,800 patients who underwent a procedure at the clinic between April 2002 and June 2011.

Levy also said the starting date was determined after the investigation found the first disinfection machine was purchased at the clinic in early 2002.

Dr. Isra Levy says the chances of anyone being infected are 'very low' but letters are still being sent to about 6,800 people as a precaution. ((CBC))

Doctor in question says concerns addressed

Farazli, a gastroenterologist specializing in internal medicine, has co-operated during the investigation, according to the release, and has co-signed the letter to her patients.

"I remain committed to the safety and well-being of my patients and am co-operating fully with OPH in providing patients with this notification", said Farazli in a statement. "I sincerely regret that the issues that were identified in my facility occurred and I apologize for any inconvenience or anxiety that patients may experience upon receiving this notification.

"I would also like to reassure patients that the issues that led to this notification have been addressed and that I will be available to support them through this process."

Patient says she won't go back

Adelaide Male, 76, said she received a colonscopy from Farazli and is now expecting a letter.

"She was very nice, very good ... it seems thorough, but she did it in her office," said Male. "A lot of people go to the hospital, the Riverside.

"You know I'm really shocked, I really don't know what to think of it all," she said, adding she would not go back to the doctor for further consultation.

Farazli graduated from the University of Montreal in 1973 and sometimes works at Montfort Hospital. She has never been disciplined or found unfit for practice and has not been found guilty of malpractice or negligence.

Endoscopic procedures are no longer being performed at the facility, which remains in operation.  OPH also believes there are no more exposures to infection at the clinic, Levy said.

Information line set up for clinic patients

Ottawa Public Health has set up a special information line for patients who receive letters at 613-580-2888.

Levy first announced Saturday Ottawa Public Health investigated the facility because of "lapses in infection control" that may have led to those patients being exposed.


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He also said the risk of infection is very low and "at this time we are not aware of any person, any individual, who has become ill related to this lapse."

The risk of associated infection are believed to be less than one in one million for hepatitis B, less than one in 50 million for hepatitis C and less than one in three billion for HIV.

But local health officials said they do not know exactly when the lapse in procedures started, so that is why the patients who will be contacted by registered letter cover a 10-year period.

Infection control expert Dr. Michael Gardam told CBC News on Sunday the viruses are easily killed by routine measures. Gardam added Ottawa's local health officials are just trying to cover all bases.

Those residents concerned are expected to receive letters Tuesday warning them to get checked for HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C.