December 30, 2018 / 4:31 AM / 7 months ago

New Jersey clinic sued after HIV infection warning

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A former patient has filed the first lawsuit against a New Jersey surgery center that may have exposed nearly 3,800 patients to HIV and hepatitis due to poor sterilization and medication practices.

The HealthPlus Surgery Center in Saddle Brook recently told the patients that a state probe of its facilities found “lapses in infection control” and “the injection of medications” could have exposed them to the diseases.

A state report released on Friday said operating rooms at the center were not properly cleaned and surgical tools were sometimes found with “brown rust-like stains” before use.

It was the latest scare at a new Jersey healthcare facility after 11 children died at a rehabilitation center since October in a deadly viral outbreak.

Friday’s lawsuit was filed in Bergen County against the surgery center on behalf of a woman who was a patient there between Jan. 1 and Sept. 7 2018, according to a statement by her lawyer Michael Maggiano.

It claimed the center showed “wanton misconduct — on a continuing basis” for exposing patients to dangerous pathogens.

It was not immediately clear whether the woman had been infected by any disease due to treatment at the center. Though criticizing the center’s sanitation practices, the health department report said risks of infection were low and it was not aware of any illness as a result of the infection control issues.

In a statement on Friday, HealthPlus lawyer Mark Manigan said the center now conducted weekly inspections and had been in compliance with health department regulations since Sept. 27.

The company is testing patients who attended the center between Jan. 1 and Sept. 7 for possible infections.

Reporting by Peter Szekely; Additional reporting by Andrew Hay; Editing by Christopher Cushing

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