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Virginia Mason patients should test for hepatitis-B, hospital warns

Virginia Mason Medical Center is warning hundreds of patients to get tested for hepatitis-B, after a lapse in screening practices. Friday, the hospital announced it has notified 650 patients that they could have been exposed.

Virginia Mason officials notified patients who were treated in the dialysis unit over the past five years. They say the risk of hepatitis-B exposure is very low, but they are warning people out of caution.

A review by King County health officials showed the dialysis unit wasn't routinely screening and isolating hepatitis-B positive patients. But, all other recommended prevention techniques were followed, like disinfecting machines and using personal protective equipment.

County health epidemiologist Jeff Duchin says most chronic kidney dialysis patients are regularly screened. But he says people treated in the dialysis unit should contact their health care provider about testing.

Hepatitis-B is a contagious liver disease, with symptoms including fever, vomiting and jaundice.