More than 1,100 patients treated at Goshen Health Hospital in Indiana may have been exposed to blood borne viruses, such as HIV and hepatitis, due to a failure to properly sterilize surgical equipment used between April and September 2019.
Last week, the northern Indiana hospital sent exposure warning letters to patients who underwent surgical procedures, which may have involved the use of utensils that were not properly cleaned between patients to prevent the transmission of blood borne viruses.
The letters indicate the hospital identified at least one of the steps in a multistep cleaning process of certain surgical tools was missed by one of the seven sterilization technicians on staff, potentially resulting in a risk of infectious disease transmission.
Officials from Goshen Health indicate the surgical tools in question were still put through other steps of sterilization, which included enzymatic cleaners machine washer disinfection and/or ultrasonic cleaner process, and also high steam temperatures and pressure for a long period of time. However, Goshen Health’s sterile processing and infectious disease experts found there is still a remote potential for transmission of infectious diseases to patients. Therefore, patients are being advised to obtain testing to confirm they have not been infected.
The hospital announced the warning letters were issued to all of the potentially impacted patients, with instructions on how to receive a free lab blood test to confirm they have not contracted any infection from their procedure.
Just days after the Goshen Health letter was sent, a class action lawsuit was filed against the hospital by a woman who underwent surgery at the facility on June 24, 2019. The complaint seeks class action status on behalf of all similarly situated patients, seeking damages for emotional trauma, medical expenses and more.
In addition to the warning letters, Goshen Health officials announced they have established a call center that can be reached at 547-364-2100 Monday through Friday from 8:00am to 4:30pm to answer questions and schedule blood testing.