More Than 1,000 Patients May Have Been Exposed to HIV or Hepatitis at Indiana Hospital

A hospital faces legal action after it potentially exposed more than a thousand patients to blood-borne viruses such as HIV and hepatitis by failing to properly sterilize surgical equipment.

A lawsuit was filed Friday on behalf of a single patient against Goshen Health.

This month, the hospital sent letters to what officials termed a “small portion of surgical patients” who could have been exposed to blood-borne viruses through unclean instruments from April to September.

In April, one of seven sterilization technicians working at the hospital failed to complete one step in a multi-step cleaning process of surgical equipment, according to a statement from the hospital last week.

Goshen Health officials said the chance of infection was “extremely remote,” but the letters recommended that patients be screened for HIV, as well as hepatitis B and C. The hospital’s president and chief executive officer, Randal Christophel, and its chief medical officer, Daniel Nafziger, signed the letter.

Though the hospital acknowledged skipping a step in sterilizing the instruments, it said in the statement that the equipment underwent cleaning with chemicals, disinfection with a machine washer or ultrasonic cleaner and high steam temperatures and pressure.

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SOURCE: USA Today, Shari Rudavsky