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Patients may need additional hepatitis C testing: Saskatoon Health Region – Saskatoon

SASKATOON – The Saskatoon Health Region is advising doctors in the region that patients may require additional hepatitis C testing. Officials say a test that had been used since 2012 was not meeting an acceptable standard.

“In March of this year, it was discovered that our confirmatory test that we have used since 2012 was based on an older technology and was not meeting an acceptable standard of patient care,” said Dr. Joseph Blondeau, the interim head for pathology and laboratory medicine for the region.

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A large-scale review was undertaken after 26 patients tested positive between January and April of this year for the liver disease, and who in the end, did not have hepatitis C.

Officials said there was no clear indication why the 26 tests came back positive, but it identified an issue with the test.

“Once we discovered this problem, we immediately ceased this testing,” said Blondeau, who added they have informed doctors that follow-up tests should be done on patients if they feel it is clinically necessary.

READ MORE: Saskatchewan government to cover new hepatitis C drug

Around 4,000 hepatitis C tests were carried out between January 2012 and April 2015 using the older technology, but officials say the number of patients it represents is smaller as some were tested several times.

Testing is carried out in two steps: a patient’s blood is tested for antibodies, and if positive, supplemental testing is carried out.

Hepatitis C is a contagious liver disease ranging in severity from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a serious life-long illness that attacks the liver.

Watch below: Megan McGrath from AIDS Saskatoon explains what hepatitis C is, how it is contracted and prevention steps.