SUDBURY -- Sudbury dermatologist Dr. Lyne Giroux is warning her patients that they might have been exposed to a blood-borne infection.

In a letter mailed earlier this month, Giroux said anyone who received a local anesthetic as part of a medical procedure at her office between June 21, 2006, and June 30, 2010, or between March 5, 2018 and Jan. 24, 2020, may have been exposed.

"It has recently come to my attention that during the time periods listed above, an improper and outdated infection control practice may have been followed by a nurse on our staff while preparing injections of local anesthetic," Giroux said in the letter. 

"Due to this improper and outdated procedure, there is the potential for you to have been exposed to blood-borne infections such as hepatitis B, hepatitis C and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)."

The report said syringes were reused to withdraw additional doses of local anesthetic from multi-dose vials for the same patient. The nurse is no longer working at the clinic, Giroux confirmed to CTV News in a statement.

"Upon becoming aware of this lapse, out of an abundance of precaution, I felt it was imperative that I disclose this to The Sudbury and District Public Health Unit," she said. "I also wanted to raise awareness to other medical practices that may be still be using this outdated practice. I cannot not be certain of what the actual risk of exposure would be, but I believe it to be very low."

Public Health Sudbury and Districts says the practice could have contaminated those multi-dose vials, which are then used to fill other syringes for use on other patients, transmitting a virus or infection.

"I understand that even with the potential for a risk, this news can be concerning," she wrote. "Your health and the health of all my patients is my greatest concern, and I am committed to supporting you through the follow-up described in this letter."

Giroux says she notified Public Health after learning about the improper practice and has been working with them to get her patients the information they need.

In the letter, she said Public Health has not discovered any cases of infection resulting from the incidents, but they are alerting patients publicly out of an abundance of caution.

The notice only applies to patients on the medical dermatology side of her business, and not the cosmetology side. It also doesn't apply to those who had medical dermatology treatments between June 1, 2010, and March 2, 2018.

"I have always strived to and will continue to maintain the highest standards of care in my practice," Giroux wrote. "I was dismayed to discover this unfortunate occurrence and will do all I can to support you in your follow-up to this letter."

In the letter to patients, the health unit attached laboratory requisition forms so patients can get tested if they so choose." The incident has also been reported to a regulatory college and all Ontario local public health agencies have been notified.

Patients were also mailed a package from Giroux on May 21.

Giroux said nursing staff were educated on the proper guidelines for the use of multi-dose vials on Jan. 28, 2020. All of the multi-dose vials that were in use were removed and also discarded on that day.