More than 1000 may have been exposed to HIV, hepatitis C and B, and other infections at the Goshen Hospital in northern Indiana, according to health officials. According to Fox 42, the hospital revealed it skipped a crucial step in sterilizing its surgical tools, adding that patients, who underwent surgery between April 1 and September 30, could be infected due to the error.
In letters written to the 1,182 patients, it notified them that they may have been exposed to hepatitis B and C, and HIV. The health care institution also learned one of its technicians did not properly sterilize surgical tools. The letter stated that the step was skipped “with certain surgical instruments in a limited number of cases” in an oversight that occurred “because one of the hospital’s surgical instrument sterilization technicians failed to complete a necessary step”.
“While we apologize for the worry and inconvenience this situation may cause, our patients’ safety and well-being are our utmost priority. We want to assure our patients we will assist in every way possible,” said Randal Christophel, president and CEO of Goshen. The hospital added that it is now offering free tests to anyone who underwent surgery during that time and may have been exposed to the host of infections the surgical tools may have come into contact with.
“Goshen Health recently became aware of a situation that may have impacted surgical patients at Goshen Hospital from April through September 2019. During this time, one step in a multistep cleaning process was not completed with certain surgical instruments in a limited number of cases,” the statement read. “The surgical instruments in question were still treated with other usual chemical disinfection and machine sterilization processes which include a wide margin of safety; however, we are not able to determine if such instruments were completely sterile prior to use.
“This action has the potential of exposing a limited number of patients to the hepatitis C virus, hepatitis B virus and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Even though we believe the risk to be extremely low, out of an abundance of caution, we are offering patients free testing for these viruses. The testing is a blood draw and will be offered at a convenient location to the patients at no cost. A call centre has been established and patients involved have been notified. Upon learning of the issue, Goshen Health immediately corrected the situation.”
Lori Deboard, one of the patients, said she was “mad” when she received the letter. She also expressed concern for herself and her family. “I was mad, I was really, really mad because when you tell somebody that they could be at risk for something like that, and not only involves you it involves your family, your significant other,” Deboard told WSBT. “I mean, I have grandkids and kids, I have a life.”