A lengthy investigation by the New Jersey State Department of Health has revealed that the ambulatory surgery center in question continually failed to utilize proper sterilization procedures on the premises, resulting in at least 3,778 patients who were admitted there being potentially subjected to contaminated surgical equipment.
The department announced that HealthPlus had allowed "lapses in infection control in sterilization/cleaning instruments" that resulted in "the injection of medications" that "may have exposed patients to bloodborne pathogens."
Beyond failing to properly sanitize surgical equipment, faculty at HealthPlus further failed to comply with regulations pertaining to the "dispensing and storage of medication, as well as infection control planning and procedures" – which, as we reported earlier, appears to be a common problem at many other hospitals as well.
"Although the risk of infection is low, out of an abundance of caution, HEALTHPLUS and the New Jersey Department of Health recommend patients get blood tests for hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV," reads a warning announcement issued by the health department.
For more related news, be sure to check out MedicalViolence.com.
In response to these damning findings, HealthPlus decided to close its entire facility for three weeks beginning on September 7, during which time new staff members were brought on and others were retrained in proper sanitation procedures. The facility was also thoroughly cleaned, reports indicate, in order to bring all medical equipment up to "pristine" condition.
"The New Jersey Department of Health's move to close the facility provided an opportunity to focus more intently on quality, safety and a consistent adherence to sound policies and procedures," reads an official statement from the surgery center.
"As a result, we have made significant improvements to ensure our patients' safety and good health."
Despite the warnings issued to the potentially infected patients, the surgery center insists that everyone is probably fine because there allegedly haven't been any reports of infections or illness "related to the investigation." Still, it's a good idea for people to get tested, officials warn.
"It is important to note that to date, there have not been reports of any infections or illness related to the investigation," announced HealthPlus Surgery Center Administrator, Betty McCabe.
"However, HealthPlus and the New Jersey Department of Health are recommending that those patients get tested as soon as possible. We recognize that this may be upsetting to our patients, and we are taking this matter very seriously and taking steps to assist them during this process."
It's important to keep in mind, though, that according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), acute hepatitis B is "a short-term illness" that can take up to six months to manifest following exposure. Symptoms also vary from person to person, with some people showing "few or no symptoms to a serious condition requiring hospitalization."
Hepatitis C infection, which usually occurs from the sharing of drug needles, is similarly short-term, but does often become "a long-term, chronic infection" in as many as 85 percent of people who become infected with it.
"There are an estimated 850,000 people living with hepatitis B; an estimated 2.4 million people living with hepatitis C," the agency states. "3 in 4 people with hepatitis C were born from 1945-1965."
For more news about the filthy conditions that plague many Western hospitals, be sure to check out Outbreak.news.
Sources for this article include: