More than 1,300 people have received letters advising them to get tested for hepatitis B and C because proper procedures weren't being followed at two Edmonton hospitals.

Covenant Health says there is a “very low risk” that patients were exposed to the viruses during insulin injection training at the Grey Nuns Community Hospital and Misericordia Community Hospital between 2013 and 2016.

Needles were always changed during the training sessions, where patients learned how to inject themselves, but saline reservoirs and practice pillows were re-used between some patients. That created what officials are calling a “very low risk” of transmission.

Brandy Payne, Alberta’s associate minister of health, told CTV Edmonton that “the amount of time it took to investigate this breach and then notify patients is concerning.”

Dr. Owen Heisler, chief medical officer Covenant Health, apologized for “creating anxiety” and vowed to look into why it took so long for its patients to be informed about the improper practices, which ceased 16 months ago.

“Our nurses, our staff, if they would have known there were risks, they wouldn't have done this,” Dr. Heisler said.

Dr. Jan Hux, chief science officer at Diabetes Canada, said she was disappointed to hear about the problem, but that the procedures at the hospitals have been corrected so there is “no further risk.”