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Health dept.: West Virginia clinic reused needles

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Health officials on Monday advised patients of a West Virginia pain management clinic to be tested for blood-borne infectious diseases after an investigation found that needles had been reused. The investigation by West Virginia health officials found that, prior to November 2013, needles and syringes were reused at Valley Pain Management in McMechen to administer pain medications and saline solutions. They said the same pain medication vial was used for more than one patient. These injection practices potentially exposed patients to diseases such as hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV, according to health department officials in West Virginia and Ohio. Health officials urged patients from both states to be tested. McMechen is located in West Virginia's Northern Panhandle across the Ohio River from Ohio. "While we cannot determine if these procedures caused any illnesses, it is possible this practice may have exposed Valley Pain Management patients to infections," Dr. Letitia Tierney, West Virginia Bureau for Public Health commissioner and state health officer, said in the news release. Health officials from both states advised patients to be tested for blood-borne infections if they had an injection between the clinic's 2010 opening and Nov. 1, 2013. Both agencies said the clinic has not cooperated with their requests for a patient list, which they are seeking so patients can be notified of their potential risk of exposure and testing options. "It's not good news," Tim Coe, of Cadiz, Ohio, said Monday after learning about the test advisory. Coe said he went to the clinic one time in 2011 for treatment for a back problem and never returned. He said he's already made an appointment to have a blood test next week but isn't overly nervous because he's had other blood work done since then. "I just feel bad for other people," he said. The clinic did not immediately return a telephone message Monday. In West Virginia, testing is available at local health departments in Hancock, Brooke, Ohio, Marshall and Wetzel counties. The Ohio department recommends patients talk to their primary care providers about arranging testing, said Maureen Murphy-Weiss, the department's program manager of viral hepatitis prevention.

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