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Various assorted forceps photographed at Mount Sinai Hospital Nov. 11/2005.Kevin Van Paassen/The Globe and Mail

Health officials in New Brunswick say they are contacting nearly 2,500 patients after discovering that unsterilized biopsy forceps were used at a hospital clinic for 14 years.

The province's Horizon Health Network says the problem at a colposcopy clinic at the Miramichi Regional Hospital began in 1999 and was detected on May 24 of this year.

The CEO of the Horizon Health Network says while all of the biopsy forceps were sterilized at the end of every day, during the day some forceps were only cleaned and disinfected before being reused.

John McGarry says there is an extremely low risk of infection, but 2,497 patients who had colposcopy biopsies are being sent letters to advise them to have blood tests for hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV.

Colposcopies are procedures to exam the cervix, vagina and vulva in an effort to prevent cervical cancer.

McGarry says the health board apologizes for the error.

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