Patient Sues Northwestern Memorial for Reusing Tainted Syringe

Thursday, January 18, 2018 General News
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Hospital Concealed That Syringe Was Previously Used on HIV Patient

CHICAGO, Jan. 17, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- A Chicago area resident, identified as

John Doe, has filed suit against Northwestern Memorial Hospital claiming hospital personnel reused a syringe previously used on an HIV-positive patient, and that hospital personnel misled him for over a month before admitting to the exposure.

According to the complaint, Northwestern Memorial Hospital personnel admitted to Doe that they reused a syringe during his outpatient hernia surgery, first informing him of the incident when he returned to the hospital for a scheduled follow-up visit ten days after the procedure. At the time, hospital personnel failed to disclose that the syringe was previously used on a patient who had HIV.

Instead, Doe spent more than a month making inquiries and requests for further information before the hospital finally admitted that the first patient was HIV-positive.  At that point, Northwestern Memorial Hospital offered to pay for blood tests, HIV Hep screens, and advised that Doe use a condom during sexual activity.

The three-count complaint, filed Tuesday morning by Doe's attorney, Shawn Kasserman, of Tomasik Kotin Kasserman, LLC, alleges Battery for the reuse of the contaminated syringe, and accuses the hospital of Reckless Endangerment and Fraudulent Concealment following the staff's decision to hide the potential HIV exposure from the patient, John Doe.

"Uncovering the facts of this case, it's become clear that Northwestern Memorial Hospital knew right away -- during the surgery -- that they had potentially exposed the patient to HIV," Kasserman said. "But instead of informing him of the mistake and outlining his options for treatment, they said nothing and sent him home."

Kasserman emphasizes that his client's action is primarily about broken trust. "Physician candor in communications with patients is a cornerstone of patient safety," he says.  "While the potential exposure to HIV was reckless, it's the decision to purposefully conceal the information from the patient that is truly staggering.  That kind of cover-up erodes the confidence that patients need when placing their lives in the hands of health care providers."

Doe, Kasserman says, is a well-educated, high-achieving professional, who was relentless in his pursuit of the full truth about what happened during his surgery. "He's worried, though, about what might happen to others who don't have the resources and wherewithal that he does," says Kasserman. "Part of what he's seeking is a zero-tolerance policy on reuse of syringes and other potentially contaminated equipment and mandatory and immediate reporting of any failures to live up to that policy."

Doe's complaint includes portions of the American Medical Association's Principles of Medical Ethics and Illinois State Medical Society's Code of Ethics which state that physicians must "be honest in all professional interactions," strive to report physicians "who engage in fraud or deception," and must "regard responsibility to the patient as paramount."

To date, Doe has not tested positive for HIV, Kasserman says, "but this is still something he has to live with: the physical and emotional distress of the exposure and the loss of trust in the doctors and hospital responsible for his care.  Nearly a year after his surgery, he's still coming to terms with what happened and, by filing suit, he hopes he can bring about procedural changes that will prevent this from ever happening to anyone else."

Contact: Debra Pickett, Page 2 Communications773 368


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SOURCE Tomasik Kotin Kasserman, LLC

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