More than 200 patients were recently notified that they may have been exposed to HIV or hepatitis B or C at Shore Medical Center in New Jersey. Sadly, infection control breaches continue to happen in hospitals across the country, and patients are left with unexpected health problems they never expected to happen.
Below are six steps patients should take if they receive a letter from any hospital about possible infection exposure.
1. Get tested right away.
Set up an appointment to undergo a blood test if there’s a chance you could have been exposed. If you did contract the disease, timely diagnosis and treatment can be vital to your health.
2. Gather as much info about the incident as you can.
Find out how and where the exposure happened as well as possible symptoms patients could experience if they have been infected. Further, it’s important to understand the corrective actions being taken by the hospital and the local health department. There will likely be a 24-hour contact number available for patients who received a letter – but be sure to avoid giving a statement or signing papers that may take away your legal rights in the situation.
3. Discuss the matter with your primary care physician.
Your physician will be able to discuss with you possible symptoms and complications associated with the disease as well as treatment options.
4. Obtain the results of a prior lab test.
Getting prior lab results will confirm you had not been exposed to the disease prior to the infection breach. This information will be very useful in protecting your rights and seeking justice and compensation for related medical bills and other unforeseen expenses resulting from the disease.
5. Obtain copies of your medical records.
The Privacy Rule under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) gives patients, with few exceptions, the right to access, review and receive a copy of their medical records. These records, which include doctors’ notes, medical test results, reports and billing information – may be available electronically and/or in paper form.
6. Protect your legal rights.
In the midst of all of this unexpected commotion, it’s easy to forget that this error could have been prevented and that the hospital must take responsibility for its failure to protect patients. Each state limits the amount of time a person has to protect his or her rights, so it’s important to contact an experienced law firm right away. A skilled medical malpractice attorney will navigate the complex legal process to follow, so patients can focus on getting treatment and recovering.
Contact Anapol Weiss for assistance if you received a letter about a hospital infection control breach. Our team can be your voice in court.