An error with surgical equipment may have exposed over 1,000 patients in northern Indiana to infections.

The error occurred at Goshen Health Hospital in Goshen, Indiana, after surgical equipment wasn’t reportedly cleaned and sanitized properly for several months. As a result, the hospital said 1,182 patients may have been exposed to HIV, Hepatitis B, and Hepatitis C between April and September.

A class-action lawsuit was subsequently filed Friday in Elkhart County Superior Court by a plaintiff identified as Linda Gierek representing several anonymous defendants.

According to Goshen Health marketing specialist Liz Fisher said one step in the cleaning process was reportedly missed by the technician responsible. The oversight resulted in surgeons using contaminated equipment and exposing the patients.

Fisher confirmed letters had been sent to the patients identified warning of the exposure and Goshen Hospital will be offering free virus testing to anyone exposed. A call center was also set up for patients to call and ask about the testing but the hospital is also assuring patients' risk of exposure was “extremely low.”

“While our sterile processing and infectious disease experts believe that the potential transmission of blood borne viruses between patients is extremely remote, out of an abundance of caution, we want to verify through lab blood tests that patients have not been harmed,” Goshen Health Hospital President and CEO Randal Christophel said.

However, some patients have voiced their anger at the situation.

“This is someone you trust, you’re supposed to have strict procedures and finding out that they didn’t follow that?” one unnamed patient told WDNU, an NBC affiliate in South Bend. “It’s unwelcomed, it’s life and death at this point it feels like.”

“You can’t just be sorry for that, that is something, this is our lives at this point that’s being tampered with,” another patient said.

surgery-688380_1920 Over the 10-year time period of the study, ICU hospitalizations for ambulatory care sensitive conditions have been slowly decreasing while the proportion of those in the ICU with a life-limiting malignancy has been increasing. Photo: Image by skeeze from Pixabay