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Medical Facility Exposes Patients to HIV and Hepatitis

  • January 18, 2019
  • KBA Attorneys
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Whether it’s a doctor’s office or a hospital, any medical facility must meet the highest possible standards of cleanliness and infection control. Maintaining a sterile environment is essential for preventing serious harm to patients.

The spread of infections through medical facilities is a critical problem. Every year, tens of thousands of people in the U.S. die of infections contracted in medical settings. Even when an infection doesn’t rapidly lead to death, it can still wreck people’s health, damage their quality of life, and require costly medical treatments.

Patients Exposed to HIV and Hepatitis at a New Jersey Surgery Center

When medical professionals fail to maintain proper hygiene, HIV is one of the diseases that patients may be at a higher risk of contracting. HIV is a virus that attacks the immune system and destroys it over time; in its advanced stages, it becomes AIDS. Contaminated needles are one way HIV can be transmitted. Another is medical equipment that hasn’t been adequately sterilized.

An unsanitary medical facility can also increase the risk of hepatitis infection. Hepatitis A spreads through fecal matter. Hepatitis B and hepatitis C spread through blood and other fluids in the body, so that shared needles or unsterilized surgical equipment are possible avenues of infection. Although there are differences between hepatitis viruses, all of them attack the liver.

Recently, over 3,700 people who were treated at a New Jersey surgical center between January and September of 2018 received notification that they may have been exposed to HIV, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C. Even if they feel fine, they’ll still need to undergo a blood test to check if they’re infected. These diseases don’t always produce apparent symptoms early on.

The surgery center reportedly fired two of the employees responsible for failing to sterilize surgical equipment properly. However, there’s no excuse for how management allowed safety standards to become so lax, to begin with. Apparently, the center also endangered patients through other problems with poor hygiene, including reports of a stretcher with a wet stain that wasn’t sufficiently disinfected. These dangers to patients could have been wholly prevented with rigorous protocols of infection control.

What Are the Potential Effects on Patients?

Before patients find out if they’ve been infected with HIV or hepatitis, they have to live with the tremendous stress of not knowing the results.

They also have to cope with the betrayal of their trust. When these patients turned to the surgery center for medical help, they rightly assumed that it met adequate standards for cleanliness and infection control. Instead of receiving the sterile environment they were promised, they wound up exposed to severe pathogens.

What can happen when people become infected?

There’s no cure for HIV. People who are infected with the virus need to go on a daily regimen of antiretroviral therapy. This regimen can prolong their lives and keep them in a better state of health. However, it may also cause unpleasant and sometimes severe side effects. Furthermore, contracting HIV often has a devastating impact on people’s personal relationships.

Hepatitis B and hepatitis C also have the potential of becoming chronic conditions that require some combination of treatments and lifestyle modifications.

Contacting a Medical Malpractice Attorney

If you’ve suffered from unhygienic and negligent medical practices, it’s important to reach out to an experienced medical malpractice attorney.

Infections such as HIV and hepatitis take a severe toll on medical expenses and can result in profound changes to your health, relationships, and general way of life. A medical malpractice lawsuit may be the best way to give you compensation for your suffering and demand some accountability from irresponsible professionals and facilities.

If you call on KBA Attorneys for assistance with your medical malpractice lawsuit, you’ll find compassionate guidance, powerful advocacy, and a track record demonstrating our success in this area of law. Using our considerable skills and experience, we’ll strive to give you the best possible results for your case.