Lawsuit Filed Against HealthPlus Surgery Center in New Jersey That May Have Exposed More Than 3,000 Patients to HIV

A former patient has filed a class-action lawsuit against a Midland Avenue surgery center whose poor sterilization practices may have exposed nearly 3,800 former patients to hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV during medical procedures earlier this year.

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The three-count lawsuit was filed Friday in state Superior Court in Hackensack by Lauren Marrero, the patient, and her husband, Julio. It claims the HealthPlus Surgery Center in Saddle Brook was negligent, careless, reckless and guilty of “wanton misconduct — on a continuing basis” for exposing patients to the dangerous pathogens.

“The Defendant knew or should have known that the sterilization procedures at their facility were insufficient and posed a substantial risk of harm to the Plaintiffs and others similarly situated between January 1, 2018 and September 7, 2018,” the lawsuit read.

The suit also blamed the center for not properly vetting, training or supervising its medical staff.

The Marreros say the center’s negligence resulted in physical pain, emotional anguish, distress, fear and anxiety, among other things, the suit read. They seek compensatory damages, interest and attorney’s fees.

Mark Manigan, a Roseland attorney representing the center, declined to comment on the lawsuit.

The lawsuit is the first to be filed against HealthPlus, which the New Jersey Department of Health ordered closed after a Sept. 7 investigation revealed poor drug storage methods, an outdated infection control plan and a failure to properly clean and disinfect medical hardware and instruments, according to a report released Friday. The center reopened three weeks later when state inspectors found it had fixed the issues.

Anyone who stayed for a procedure at HealthPlus from January to Sept. 7 may have been exposed, the Health Department has said. But the risk of infection is low, the department added.

Still, 3,778 former patients – including Marrero – received letters the week of Christmas urging them to be tested for the diseases.

“What a thing to wake up to,” said Michael Maggiano, the Fort Lee attorney representing the Marreros. “They need to know what happened. They need to know how this happened. Because when they walked into this facility, they trusted HealthPlus … [Lauren Marrero] feels betrayed.”

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SOURCE: USA Today; North Jersey Record, Steve Janoski

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