Goshen Hospital Testing

Goshen Health officials have announced that patients who underwent surgery at Goshen Hospital between April and September 2019 may have been exposed to a variety of diseases resulting from a surgical instrument sterilization issue.

{child_flags:featured}{child_flags:alert}Surgical patients potentially exposed to diseases

{child_byline}JOHN KLINE

THE GOSHEN NEWS{/child_byline}

GOSHEN — Goshen Hospital patients who underwent surgery between the dates of April 1 and Sept. 30 may have been exposed to potentially serious diseases as a result of a recently discovered sterilization issue, hospital officials say.

In a letter to affected patients sent out earlier this month, Randy Christophel, president and CEO of Goshen Health, joined Daniel Nafziger, hospital chief medical officer, in announcing that between April 1 and Sept. 30, one of the hospital’s seven surgical instrument sterilization technicians failed to complete one of the necessary steps in the hospital’s multi-step sterilization process with certain surgical instruments, potentially exposing surgical patients to infections, such as the hepatitis C virus, hepatitis B virus and human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV.

“The surgical instruments in question were still treated with our usual chemical disinfection and machine sterilization processes which include a wide margin of safety; however, such instruments may or may not have been completely sterile,” the letter states. “While we believe the risk is extremely low, out of the utmost caution, we want to notify you that it is possible that this action may have exposed you to infections. To be very conservative, we want to offer patients free lab testing services to verify the absence or presence of any of these viruses.”

The letter goes on to encourage all those who had surgery at the hospital within the stated time frame to take advantage of the free lab testing, noting many treatment options are available should an infection be found.

TESTING OFFERED

“We have made arrangements for free lab testing to be available immediately at our outpatient testing center at 1115 Professional Drive, Goshen,” the letter states. “If it is not convenient for you to come to Goshen for testing, please let us know. Call 574-364-2100 to schedule your test today. The test includes a blood draw, and it is not necessary to fast beforehand.”

The letter notes lab results will be processed within 10 business days of testing and patients will be notified of their results via phone call and mail.

“To completely rule out any potential exposure, additional testing dates may be necessary based on the timing of your procedure,” the letter adds. “Our colleagues can provide you with the full details and information.”

Additionally, a call center has been established for any patient who wants to reach out with questions or concerns related to the sterilization issue, the letter explains.

Those interested in using the service are asked to call 574-364-2100 between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Those calling outside of normal business hours are asked to leave a message on the hospital’s voicemail system, with calls to be returned the next business day.

“As with any patient safety concern, we rigorously investigated all aspects around the incident,” Nafziger said of Goshen Health’s response to the situation. “We have put strict policies and additional safety measures in place to ensure it does not happen again. We also want to express our concern for each of these patients.”

NUMBER OF PATIENTS

According to Shannon McNett-Silcox, marketing director for Goshen Health, a total of 1,182 surgical patents may have been exposed as a result of the sterilization issue. She did not say if any surgical patients have tested positive for any diseases from being exposed to the instruments.

“While we apologize for the worry and inconvenience this situation may cause, our patients’ safety and well-being are our utmost priority,” Christophel added. “We want to assure our patients we will assist in every way possible.”

The letter concludes by noting the hospital has no reason to suspect that anyone who underwent a surgical procedure before April 1 or after Sept. 30 would be impacted by the sterilization issue.

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John Kline can be reached at john.kline@goshennews.com or 574-533-2151, ext. 315. Follow John on Twitter @jkline_TGN.

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