What to Know
State investigators say HealthPlus Surgery Center in New Jersey may have exposed more than 3,000 patients to HIV and hepatitis
The attorney for a man who had surgery at the center says the man tested positive for hepatitis B
Investigators say the center used unacceptable drug storage methods and sterilization practices
A man who had knee surgery at a New Jersey surgical facility accused of using unacceptable drug storage methods and sterilization practices has tested positive for hepatitis B, his attorney says.
HealthPlus Surgery Center in Saddle Brook, New Jersey was hit with a class action lawsuit and temporarily shuttered after state investigators said the facility may have exposed more than 3,000 patients to HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C.
Attorney Jack Jacilla on Tuesday said his client David Kinlock tested positive for hepatitis B. Kinlock, who lives in New Jersey, had knee surgery at the center, Jacilla said.
Kinlock was tested for the blood-borne disease after HealthPlus contacted former patients to notify them of the potential exposure, according to NorthJersey.com. A second patient has also tested positive for hepatitis B, the outlet reported.
“This finding should be a wakeup call,” Jacilla said.
According to a report from the state Department of Health made public in late December 2018, operating rooms at HealthPlus were not properly cleaned and disinfected between procedures.
In one instance, an inspector saw a stretcher in a hallway with a blood-stained sheet that wasn't properly disinfected even after the inspector pointed it out to staffers.
State surveyors also found the facility improperly stored sterilized items, jeopardizing their cleanliness, while other sterilized instruments revealed rust-like stains, the report said.
Nearly 3,800 former patients have been urged to get tested. The health department says the risk of infection is low, noting the recommendation for testing was made out of "an abundance of caution."
State health officials have said anyone who had a procedure performed at the center from January to Sept. 7 of last year may have been exposed.
An attorney for HealthPlus previously said the center had taken corrective action and was complying with state demands.
“We regret this situation deeply we understand the concern and the frustration,” attorney Mark Manigan said.
Several patients who fear they were exposed to HIV and hepatitis have joined the class action lawsuit against HealthPlus.
A spokesperson for the New Jersey Department of Health on Tuesday said it could not provide any information related to patient results.
"When [the department] receives positive lab results [it] cannot tell whether they represent infection related to the procedures performed at HealthPlus or were acquired in some other manner," the spokesperson said.
"When the outbreak investigation is complete, which takes weeks to months, if patient confidentiality can be maintained, [the department] may release an overall summary related to the total number of positive results identified from the testing event," the spokesperson added, noting that the summary would say which results were or were not related to the "infection control breaches."
A spokesman for HealthPlus, meanwhile, said he couldn't comment on patients' conditions due to HIPAA regulations that protect patient privacy, but maintained that "no positive test result to date is attributable to any prospective exposure at HealthPlus."
"HealthPlus has the utmost respect for the department's process in receiving, reviewing and tabulating results so that it can report accurately to the public," adding that the center is urging patients to be tested through the department's free program.