LAWRENCEVILLE - Gwinnett Medical Center announced Tuesday it is in the process of notifying more than 100 patients and a number of hospital employees that they may have been exposed to an individual with an active case of tuberculosis (TB).
At a press conference at the hospital, Alan Bier, MD, Gwinnett Medical Center's chief medical officer, said the hospital learned recently that one of its employees had developed an active case of TB. Bier said the hospital had identified 133 patients that either had, or possibly had, contact with the infected employee between February 1 and May 10.
All 133 patients have been sent return-receipt letters informing them of the potential exposure and urging them to contact the Gwinnett County Health Department to arrange to have a skin test to determine if they may be at risk of developing TB, according to Bier.
Bier said the tests would be administered to these former patients at no charge. He said the hospital has tested employees who may have been exposed. To date, all employees have tested negative.
Under state law, all active TB cases must be reported to the local health department, which is responsible for tracking the case, conducting contact investigations and ensuring that the individuals with active TB take certain required medicines.
"I want to emphasize that the risk of contracting TB from this type of exposure is low," said Bier, "but it is important to do everything possible to rule out the possibility that any individual may have had a significant exposure."
Bier said a hospital employee had been diagnosed with active TB last month. All hospital employees are required to take TB tests once a year, and this same employee had tested negative in June 2011 and 2012. The employee was due for another routine test in June 2013, but was diagnosed with active TB in May.