Thousands of patients possibly exposed to HIV, hepatitis at NJ surgery center asked to take blood tests

A letter was sent out to patients this month informing them of the issue.

December 24, 2018, 5:03 PM

More than 3,000 patients of a surgery center in Bergen County, New Jersey, may have been exposed to HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C, according to the New Jersey Department of Health and the HealthPlus Surgery Center in the town of Saddle Brook.

On Tuesday, officials issued a new statement asking patients who received a procedure at HealthPlus Surgery Center between January and September of this year to get a blood test for hepatitis and HIV. The new statement notes that there have been no reported incidences of infection or illness relating to the investigation to date.

"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," the statement reads. " To that end, we have provided information about where and when they can get tested, as well as offered to pay for all medical costs associated with testing."

That statement followed a letter sent out notifying patients who had a procedure there during that time period that they may have come in contact with various infections.

"An investigation by the New Jersey Department of Health (DOH) revealed that during this time period, lapses in infection control in sterilization/cleaning instruments and the injection of medications may have exposed patients to bloodborne pathogens," the letter states, adding that it is important to get tested "even if you do not remember feeling sick."

On September 7, 2018, the New Jersey DOH closed the center "because some members of our staff were not following proper sterile processing procedures and failed to comply with other regulations regarding the dispensing and storage of medication, as well as infection control planning and procedures," according to the statement, which noted that the facility opened again three weeks later after addressing key safety issues.

Most of the 3778 patients possibly exposed are from New York and New Jersey.