Thousands of Hospital Patients Exposed to HIV, Hepatitis Due to Botched Sterilization

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - MARCH 16: A surgeon and his theatre team perform key hole surgery to remove a gallbladder at at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital on March 16, 2010 in Birmingham, England. As the UK gears up for one of the most hotly contested general elections in recent history it …
Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

Thousands of patients at an Indiana hospital were exposed to HIV and Hepatitis due to a sterilization technician’s failure to properly disinfect surgical tools between surgeries, a northern Indiana hospital announced this week.

Officials with Goshen Hospital in Goshen, Indiana, announced this week that “one step in a multi-step cleaning process was not completed with certain surgical instruments in a limited number of cases,” according to a letter to patients obtained by Fox 42.

Officials say this means those who went under the knife between April 1 and September 30 might have been exposed to diseases such as Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, and HIV.

“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 letter continues.

The hospital is now offering free testing to 1,182 patients who might have been at risk for exposure and reiterated that the risk for infection is low, according to the letter.

“As with any patient safety concern, we rigorously investigated all aspects around the incident,” Daniel Nafziger, the hospital’s chief medical officer, told the Goshen News. “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.”

One patient, Lori Deboard, said she is upset at the hospital despite its reassurance that the risk of catching a disease is low.

“I was mad … because when you tell somebody that they could be at risk for something like that (it) not only involves you, it involves your family, your significant other,” Deboard told WSBT. “I have grandkids and kids.”

.

Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.