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December 26, 2018

Unsanitary practices at New Jersey surgery center could lead to widespread HIV, hepatitis infections

Nearly 4,000 patients of this North Jersey outpatient facility could have been exposed to illness

Illness Infection
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A total of 3,778 patients who underwent procedures at the HealthPlus Surgery Center in Saddle Brook, New Jersey between January 1, 2018 and September 7, 2018, has been alerted that they may have been exposed to blood-borne illness.

In a letter to patients, the outpatient surgery center said “during this time period, lapses in infection control in sterilization/cleaning instruments and the injection of medications may have exposed patients to blood-borne pathogens.” 

A state investigation found staff members were not following proper procedures for sanitation, including lapses in infection control in sterilization and cleaning instruments and the injection of medications, the letter states. Officials shut down the facility from September 7th through the 28th. It reopened after that.

RELATED READ: Dentist's patients told to get tested for HIV and hepatitis

Though risk of infection is low, the New Jersey Department of Health and HealthPlus recommends that these patients get tested for hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and HIV. Patients will be able to schedule a blood test at no charge to them, paid for by HealthPlus. Here's how:

 In New Jersey:

• Call 1-888-507-0578 Monday through Friday between 9 a.m.-9 p.m. to schedule a test.

• Testing will take place at the Hudson Regional Hospital at 55 Meadowlands Parkway, Secaucus, New Jersey 07094.

• Bring the letter you received from the center with you.

In New York:

• Testing can be conducted at any LabCorp location. To find a location near you, click here.

• You can also call 1-888-507-0578 Monday through Friday between 9 a.m.-9 p.m. to schedule a test

• Bring the letter you received, along with the LabCorp enclosure you received, and a photo ID.

As part of its remediation efforts, the center claims to have improved infection control and medication dispensing procedures, hired new employees and provided training on sterilization methods , and cleaned and repaired all instruments, CBS News reported.

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