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HOSPITAL LAWSUIT: GOSHEN HOSPITAL EXPOSES PATIENTS TO POTENTIAL INFECTION RISK

Grey and White Brightly Lit Hospital Hallway

In November 2019, administrators of Goshen Hospital in Goshen, Indiana sent recent patients a letter that has been raising significant concern. If you or a loved one received one of these messages or have been treated at the facility, you should know your risks, your rights, and how Alvarez Law Office can take action on your behalf.

What happened at Goshen Hospital?

According to a notice by Goshen Health, officials discovered an important step in a multi-step sterilization process used to treat surgical equipment was being missed from April 2019 to September 2019. This oversight, they report, may have impacted some surgical patients (nearly 1,200 people) who were receiving treatment at Goshen Hospital during that period. A member of the facility’s team of seven sterilization technicians discovered and reported the oversight.

After the issue was uncovered, the hospital reportedly took several steps in response:

  • Investigating which surgical patients receiving treatment at Goshen Hospital were potentially impacted in the oversight
  • Identifying 1,182 patients who might have been exposed from April to September
  • Sending letters through the mail to all 1,182 patients, alerting them to the oversight
  • Orchestrating testing at a testing center for all impacted patients, with testing provided at no charge
  • Setting up a call center to field patient questions about the oversight, and to schedule testing appointments; the phone number: (574) 364-2100

What pathogens may have been involved?

According to Goshen Health representatives, affected patients may have been exposed to three different pathogens: Hepatitis B virus, Hepatitis C virus, and the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Symptoms of these infections may include:

  • Hepatitis B: Abdominal pain, fever, dark urine, loss of appetite, nausea, weakness, and jaundice
  • Hepatitis C: Extreme fatigue, muscle soreness, joint pain, fever, nausea, loss of appetite, stomach pain, itchy skin, and dark urine
  • HIV: Constant fatigue, swollen lymph nodes, extended fever, night sweats, unexplained weight loss, purple skin discolorations, and joint pain

Patients infected with these pathogens may experience some of these symptoms, different symptoms, or none at all. What’s more, because signs of these diseases may take several months to show up in test results, diagnosis may require multiple tests.

All of the ailments are serious. They can cause lifelong chronic illness; they require extensive, costly treatment. It is important that potentially impacted patients get tested then contact a personal injury attorney to explore their options for relief.

I’m worried I might have been exposed. What should I do?

If you received a letter—or believe you should have—make sure you get the medical testing and treatment you need to stay healthy. The call center set up by the hospital at (574) 364-2100 is a resource that can help connect exposed patients to testing and answers.

In addition to medical help, you should ensure you connect with legal assistance to protect your health and your rights. Depending on your specific circumstances, you could be entitled to compensation for future medical treatment, lost wages, emotional distress, and more.

The personal injury attorneys at Alvarez Law Office offer extensive experience representing victims of medical malpractice in cases like this. In fact, our attorneys already are working on behalf of exposed patients to help guarantee their needs are met and rights are protected.

Why did Alvarez Law Office file the lawsuit?

We filed a proposed class-action lawsuit for several reasons. First and foremost, it allows us to subpoena records and get much-needed answers about what happened. The Hospital’s communications so far have been vague at best, and we are told that the Hospital’s helpline folks are no more helpful. Second, we want to preserve everybody’s rights. Third, we wanted to immediately start the process of asking the court to “certify” the case as a class action, and we have already filed a motion and brief with the court seeking that certification.

Where was the lawsuit filed?

We filed two complaints: One with the Indiana Department of Insurance, which is required for cases alleging possible medical malpractice. And two, with the Elkhart County Superior Court.

What legal claims are included in the lawsuit?

The Class Action Complaint states legal causes of action for (i) Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress; (ii) Common Law Negligence; and (iii) Medical Malpractice.

What will it cost me to be part of the lawsuit?

There is no up-front cost to you to be part of the lawsuit. We will only be compensated if we make a recovery on your behalf.

If I file a case, how much will it be worth?

It is too early to determine what your case is worth at this time. But, in general, we will be seeking damages for things such as emotional distress and the cost of past and future testing, as well as any damages you sustain if you become infected.

Rest assured that we will fight hard for fair and complete compensation for all injuries and damages you experience due to Goshen Health’s failure to properly sterilize its surgical instruments.

Should I contact the Elkhart Superior Court for information or updates about the case?

No. Elkhart Superior Court is extremely busy with this case and many others. We recommend that you direct any questions to one of our law offices.

What is medical malpractice?

Medical malpractice happens when a doctor, nurse, or other healthcare professional ends up causing injury to a patient. That injury can be physical (for example, dropping a patient during transfer), an infection occurring during treatment at the facility, or another cause. Medical malpractice injuries may happen due to negligence, or omission, such as the missed disinfection step reported at Goshen Hospital.

Other examples of medical malpractice include:

  • Failure to diagnose a condition, or delay in diagnosis
  • Misread X-ray or other test results
  • Prescription of the wrong drug or dose
  • Failure to warn of risks or side effects
  • Performing a procedure without patient consent
  • Errors during surgery or childbirth
  • Hospital-associated infection

If you or a loved one suspect you may be a victim of medical malpractice—at Goshen Hospital or in another case—contact the experienced medical malpractice and personal injury attorneys at Alvarez Law Office. Our team will listen to your case and determine the best path forward.

How do I find the right personal injury attorney?

 

The best personal injury attorney is the one with extensive experience handling complex cases, such as the Goshen Hospital sterilization oversight case. The team at Alvarez Law Office includes lawyers who have successfully handled a wide range of medical malpractice litigation. We are proud to have achieved satisfactory results for a long list of clients.

Our proactive attorneys already are hard at work acting on behalf of several patients potentially impacted in the Goshen Hospital case. If you are concerned that you or a family member might have been impacted, contact us today. We will listen to your situation, outline your options, and determine the best path forward to a successful outcome.

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