Class-Action Suit Filed Against Kaiser Permanente for Exposure to Potentially Contaminated Instruments
A Kaiser Permanente patient on Monday filed a class-action lawsuit in Sacramento Superior Court against the Oakland-based HMO on behalf of more than 1,000 patients who may have been exposed to "contaminated instruments" during gastroenterology procedures at Kaiser's South Sacramento hospital, the Sacramento Bee reports (Sacramento Bee, 5/4). Kaiser last week sent letters to 1,331 patients to notify them that instruments their physicians used during endoscopies, colonoscopies and sigmoidoscopies between Jan. 19 and April 15 may not have been fully decontaminated by sterilizing machines, which were partially clogged. The letters said that gastroenterology patients should be tested for hepatitis within two weeks and that lung patients who had bronchoscopies during that period should be tested for tuberculosis and other infections (California Healthline, 4/29). Kenneth Hatke, who underwent a gastroenterology procedure, filed the suit alleging negligence in Kaiser's maintenance of the machines and product liability against Pennsylvania-based Custom Ultrasonic, the manufacturer of the equipment. Kaiser spokesperson Cinde Breedlove said the company has not reviewed the suit, adding, "Our infectious disease experts have determined there is an extremely low risk to our patients. We believe [patients] should be screened to assure their health is protected" (Sacramento Bee, 5/4).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.