Class-action lawsuit filed against Goshen Health in response to failure to sterilize

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GOSHEN, Ind. (WNDU) – A class-action lawsuit has been filed against Goshen Health just days after it came to light that as many as 1,182 patients were exposed to disease by a failure to sterilize surgical instruments.

Goshen Health sent letters to the nearly 1,200 patients who had surgery between April and September 2019. The letters said the patients could be at an "extremely low" risk of contracting viruses such as hepatitis C, hepatitis B and HIV.

The hospital went on to offer free blood testing at its outpatient center.

The class-action suit, which was sent electronically to 16 News Now Friday afternoon, officially names "Anonymous Healthcare Provider" as the collective defendant but alleges that more than 1,000 patients of the health care provider were exposed to infectious diseases like hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV between April and September 2019.

The woman who filed the suit on behalf of herself and others who were potentially exposed reportedly underwent surgery on June 24.

The suit alleges negligent infliction of emotional distress, negligence and medical malpractice.

16 News Now reached out to Goshen Health for comment on the lawsuit. A marketing specialist responded that "we do not comment on pending litigation."

The suit says the woman who filed is seeking certification for her and others who were potentially exposed as a plaintiff class and damages for emotional trauma, medical expenses and more.

16 News Now learned some people who underwent surgery during the time period outlined by the hospital did not receive a letter. We have not yet heard back why some have been notified while others reportedly have not.

The class-action suit defines the class as any people to whom Goshen Health sent the letter "or to whom Anonymous Helathcare Provider did not send such a letter but who underwent surgery or other procedures that involved the use of surgical instruments, during the period of time when one or more employees … did not complete all steps in the surgical instrument sterilization process."

“When we are at our most vulnerable and in need of surgery, we place both our trust and our life in our hospital and its personnel," attorney Walter J. Alvarez said in a statement release Friday afternoon. "In light of the shocking revelation that over months of time a northern Indiana hospital exposed or potentially exposed thousands of surgical patients to unsterilized instruments and life altering infectious disease such as HIV and hepatitis- our office, Alvarez Law and the Pavlack law office of Indianapolis have, today, joined forces to bring justice to those affected and hold those responsible to account."