Class action filed against hospital

NEW CASTLE NEWS

UPMC Jameson faces a class-action lawsuit after the New Castle hospital admitted that staff did not follow proper sterilizing and disinfection procedures for certain ultrasound equipment during the past year.

NEW CASTLE – A class-action lawsuit claims a medical facility put patients at risk of sexually-transmitted diseases after hospital staff failed to sterilize equipment used in ultrasounds.

UPMC Jameson is the defendant named in the suit filed Friday in Lawrence County by attorney Dallas Hartman Jr. The suit alleges the hospital put more than 200 patients at risk of being infected with HIV, Hepatitis A, B, and C, gonorrhea and chlamydia as proper disinfection and sterilization techniques for ultrasound probes were not followed from October 2017 to October 2018.

“On Thursday, we decided to file a class-action lawsuit,” Hartman said Monday morning. “We got a good amount of calls in the office, and we were able to get a better picture of what happened.

“We felt this was the best way to proceed. We did an interview with one of our proposed lead plaintiffs, and we decided to file on Friday.”

Contacted by email, Lisa Lombardo, senior public relations manager, said the hospital had no comment beyond the statement it released last week.

That statement noted that an internal review had found that “the proper cleaning process was not followed for some ultrasound probes used in internal prostate, obstetrical and gynecological exams. Any related health risks are extremely low.” It added that “corrective measures were immediately implemented.”

The statement went on to say that UPMC had reported the situation to both the state Department of Health and The Joint Commission accreditation organization, and that “appropriate education and disciplinary measures were taken to ensure the highest level of quality and patient safety.”

UPMC Jameson also contacted all potentially affected patients with additional information, offering free precautionary blood and urine testing to ensure patient safety.

The plaintiff in the suit alleges that in “June/July 2018” an ultrasound procedure was performed while the plaintiff was two months pregnant.

In the court filing, the plaintiff claims, “on our about Oct. 30” the plaintiff “received a phone call from a representative of UPMC Jameson, warning for the need to obtain testing to determine if the patient contracted an infectious disease from exposure during the ultrasound.” Patients were tested using a blood draw or urine sample.

The suit alleges that ultrasound probes used in internal prostate, obstetrical, and gynecological exams must under go high-level disinfection between usage, and UPMC Jameson was not following the procedures.

The filing reads, “It is believed that in or around the summer/fall of 2018 an internal quality assurance review at UPMC Jameson found that the proper cleaning process was not documented or followed for some ultrasound probes used in internal prostate, obstetrical and gynecological exams.”

The suit claims the plaintiff “as a result of UPMC Jameson’s negligence, carelessness, and/or recklessness will continue to endure emotional distress, suffering, inconvenience, humiliation, embarrassment, and loss of life’s pleasures.”

Hartman is seeking a jury trial and is requesting monetary damages outside of current arbitration limits.

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