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Surgery Center May Have Infected Thousands

laparoscopic surgery

Dec. 26, 2018 -- New Jersey outpatient surgery facility HealthPlus Surgery Center in Saddle Brook may have exposed 3,778 people to HIV, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C, a recent New Jersey Department of Health investigation found. The surgery center has recommended that anyone who had a procedure there between Jan. 1 and Sept. 7, 2018, get a blood test for the infections.

“We recognize that this may be upsetting to our patients,” Betty McCabe, HealthPlus administrator, says in a statement. “We are taking this matter very seriously and taking steps to assist [patients] during this process. To that end, we have provided information about where and when they can get tested, as well as offered to pay for all medical costs associated with testing.” The 3,778 people at risk received letters that explained how to get tested.

The New Jersey Department of Health closed the surgery center for an investigation on Sept. 7, 2018, because some staff members were not following infection control procedures. The investigation found that staff members’ failure to properly sterilize surgical instruments and to follow safety rules in the injection of medications might have exposed patients to the viruses.

Before the center reopened on Sept. 28, HealthPlus took steps to improve infection control procedures and hired new staff members to oversee infection prevention and control.

“We have made significant improvements to ensure our patients’ safety and good health,” McCabe says in the center’s statement. “HealthPlus is now complying with the rigorous standards and guidelines of the New Jersey Department of Health, CDC, AORN (Association of periOperative Registered Nurses) and AAMI (Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation).”

There have been no reports of illness or infection connected with the investigation.

WebMD Health News Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD on December 26, 2018

Sources

News release, Cision PR Web, Dec. 26, 2018.

HealthPlus Surgery Center letter to at-risk patients.

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