Infection Control Lapses at NJ Surgery Center Possibly Expose Thousands to Bloodborne Pathogens

Alleged lapses in proper infection control practices for instrument sterilization and cleaning and medication injections may have exposed nearly 3,800 patients at a New Jersey ambulatory surgery center (ASC) to bloodborne pathogens, according to news reports and a letter sent by the ASC to its patients.

The 3,778 patients who underwent a procedure at the ASC between Jan. 1, 2018 and Sept. 7, 2018, were informed that they may have been exposed to hepatitis B, hepatitis C and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

As a statement from the ASC notes, the N.J. Department of Health closed the center for three weeks in September 2018 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." To date, there have been no reports of any infections or illness related to the poor infection control and prevention practices.

When it was closed, the ASC stated it took several corrective actions, including improving its infection control and medication dispensing procedures, hiring and training new staff, and cleaning and repairing all instruments by an outside resource.

Unfortunately, as Infection Control Consulting Services (ICCS) noted in a recent special report on safe injection practices, such alleged infection control and prevention lapses continue to occur at healthcare facilities throughout the country. ICCS works with organizations, including ASCs, hospitals and outpatient care settings, to develop proper policies and procedures that comply with current rules, regulations and guidelines and help ensure staff follow appropriate processes that help keep patients safe. To learn more about what ICCS can do for your facility, contact us.