If you were a patient at HealthPlus Surgery Center in Saddle Brook, NJ, between January 1 and September 7, 2018, there is a risk that you have been exposed to HIV, hepatitis B and/or hepatitis C during your visit. If you received a letter from HealthPlus Surgery Center, or were a patient during those times, you may be entitled to compensation even if you end up testing negative for any of these diseases. Please contact Eichen Crutchlow Zaslow, LLP to speak with an NJ medical malpractice attorney about your options.
Patients at HealthPlus Surgery Center were exposed to deadly pathogens
The New Jersey Department of Health launched an investigation into HealthPlus Surgery Center earlier this year, shutting down the facility between September 7 and September 28. During that investigation, CNN reports, the Department “found that employees at the HealthPlus Surgery Center were not following sterilization procedures, and medical instruments were not being cleaned properly, potentially exposing patients to diseases transmitted through blood including hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV.”
Why the Department of Health was called in to review procedures at HealthPlus has not been released, but per administrator Betty McCabe, “the facility reopened on September 28 after undergoing a third-party cleaning and repairing of all their instruments, hiring new staff, and changing infection control and medication dispensing procedures.”
The ambulatory surgical center sent a letter to patients who may have been exposed to the pathogens. You can read that letter here.
Have there been any reports of infections?
Not at this time. However, you should still seek medical attention, and schedule a blood test, as soon as possible. NBC New York reports that the total number of people who were at risk of exposure is 3,778; if you sought medical treatment between January 1 and September 7, you could be at risk.
What you need to know about hepatitis
Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver. Both hepatitis B and hepatitis C (HBV and HCV, respectively) can be spread though contact with blood or other body fluids, or transmitted from a pregnant woman to her child at birth.
HBV does have a vaccine, but if you have not been vaccinated, the symptoms can take a few weeks to show – and some people may never present with symptoms at all. Those symptoms can include:
- Flu-like feeling
- Dark urine color
- Pale bowel movements
If left untreated, a person can develop cirrhosis of the liver, liver cancer, or liver failure. Acute HBV can be treated, but in some people, the disease will become a chronic condition (though this is rare for adults).
Hepatitis C can take years to present with symptoms, and there is no vaccine. The symptoms are the same as they are for HBV, as are the expected outcomes for chronic disease: liver cancer or cirrhosis. HCV is much more likely to become a chronic condition (75-85% of all adults will develop the chronic infection), and without treatment, it can be deadly.
What you need to know about HIV
HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus. It spreads through blood and sexual contact, though there have been cases where the infection was spread through breastmilk. (The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides a full list of potential transmission sources here.) One of the easiest ways for HIV to be transmitted is through contaminated needles.
The earliest HIV can be detected is 10 days after transmission, which means anyone who went to HealthPlus Surgical Center between January and September can be accurately tested.
HIV will almost always develop into acquired immune deficiency syndrome, or AIDS, though there are cases where it never makes it to this stage. Medication and treatment can slow the progression of the infection by suppressing the virus within the cells, but there is no functional cure for HIV or AIDS. Eventually, the condition will be fatal.
I received a letter from HealthPlus; what do I do?
If you have received a letter saying you may have been exposed to HIV or hepatitis B or C, you should immediately schedule a blood test. HealthPlus is performing those tests for free, per NBC News.
If your blood tests come back positive for HIV, HBV, or HCV, or for any hospital-acquired infections (HAIs), you may have a strong claim for medical malpractice, which may entitle you to compensation for your medical bills, any lost wages, and for your pain and suffering. Eichen Crutchlow Zaslow, LLP represents people who have developed HAIs at New Jersey hospitals, ambulatory surgical centers, doctors’ offices, nursing homes, rehabilitation centers, and other medical facilities.
To schedule your free consultation with a New Jersey medical malpractice lawyer from our firm, please call 732-384-1331, or fill out our contact form. Eichen Crutchlow Zaslow, LLP maintains offices in Edison, Toms River and Red Bank, and fights on behalf of clients throughout the Garden State. Let us help you protect your family and your future.