An Indiana hospital says that more than 1,000 patients were exposed to HIV, hepatitis, and other blood-borne infectious diseases after surgical tools were improperly sanitized.
What are the details?
The incident took place at Goshen Hospital in Goshen, Indiana, between April 1 and Sept. 30.
In a letter, the hospital notified possibly afflicted patients — people who had surgery in the hospital between those dates — that they might have been exposed to such diseases.
A portion of the letter read, “The surgical instruments in question were still treated with our usual chemical disinfection and machine sterilization processes which include a wide margin of safety; however, such instruments may or may not have been completely sterile.”
The hospital pointed out that steps were taken immediately to correct the issue, and extended an offer to patients for free blood testing to determine if they were infected by dirty surgical instruments.
Daniel Nafziger, the hospital’s chief medical officer, insisted that the hospital will ensure the incident won’t occur again.
“As with any patient safety concern, we rigorously investigated all aspects around the incident,” he said. “We have put strict policies and additional safety measures in place to ensure it does not happen again. We also want to express our concern for each of these patients.”
A class-action lawsuit was filed against the hospital after news of the error broke.
According to WNDU-TV, a patient, who had surgery during the time period in question, filed the suit on behalf of possibly affected patients.
The lawsuit, according to the station, “alleges negligent inflection of emotional distress, negligence, and medical malpractice.”
The station also pointed out that upon investigation, some people who received surgery during the time period of the sanitizing incidents reportedly did not receive a letter.
In a Friday statement, attorney Walter J. Alvarez said that he and his office will seek justice for those patients exposed to the serious diseases.
“When we are at our most vulnerable and in need of surgery, we place both our trust and our life in our hospital and its personnel,” Alvarez’s statement read. “In light of the shocking revelation that over months of time a northern Indiana hospital exposed or potentially exposed thousands of surgical patients to unsterilized instruments and life altering infectious disease such as HIV and hepatitis, our office, Alvarez Law and the Pavlack law office of Indianapolis have, today, joined forces to bring justice to those affected and hold those responsible to account.”