Patient sues New Jersey clinic over sterilization breach, rusty equipment  

The New Jersey Department of Health discovered numerous infection control lapses, including the use of rusty equipment, at a surgery center where more than 3,700 patients were potentially exposed to HIV and hepatitis, according to ABC News.

Here are four things to know:

1. Saddle Brook, N.J.-based HealthPlus Surgery Center closed Sept. 7 after health officials identified issues with sterilization processes and sanitation requirements. Infection control lapses included the presence of "rust-like stains" on sterilized instruments, medical staff members who failed to cover facial hair during procedures and a "red wet stain" on a stretcher reserved for a patient transport, which was allegedly improperly cleaned even after a health official pointed it out, according to a report made public Dec. 28.

2. The health department recommended 3,778 patients who visited HealthPlus between Jan. 1 and Sept. 7, 2018, get tested for HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C. Mark Manigan, HealthPlus' lawyer, said one patient has tested positive for chronic hepatitis, but preliminary results indicated the patient was likely infected before seeking treatment at the surgery center. As of Dec. 29, HealthPlus had tested 186 other patients and discovered no infections.

3. A former patient at the surgery center, 53-year-old Lauren Marrero, filed a class action complaint against HealthPlus Dec. 28. The suit claims the surgery center demonstrated "wanton misconduct ... on a continuing basis" for exposing patients to potentially harmful pathogens, according to Reuters. It is not known whether Ms. Marrero has tested positive for hepatitis or HIV.

4. The surgery center, which reopened Sept. 28, now conducts weekly inspections and has maintained compliance with health department regulations since Sept. 27, Mr. Manigan said in a Dec. 28 statement. HealthPlus said it has also improved its infection control practices, trained new sterile-processing staff members, and cleaned and repaired all medical equipment at the facility.

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