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Kaiser sued in instrument scare
By Bee Metro Staff
Published 2:15 am PDT Tuesday, May 4, 2004

A class-action lawsuit was filed Monday in Sacramento Superior Court on behalf of more than 1,000 Kaiser Permanente patients who may have been exposed to contaminated instruments.

The suit was filed by Kenneth Hatke on behalf of patients who had colonoscopies, sigmoidoscopies, endoscopies and other similar procedures at the HMO's south Sacramento facility between Jan. 19 and April 15.

Spokeswoman Cinde Breedlove said hospital officials haven't had a chance to review the suit.

"Our infectious disease experts have determined there is an extremely low risk to our patients. We believe they should be screened to assure their health is protected," Breedlove said.

Kaiser officials sent letters to 1,331 patients after technicians performing maintenance on a machine used to sterilize instruments found it to be partially clogged. They asked patients who had one of the procedures to be tested for hepatitis.
The suit accuses Kaiser of negligence in the maintenance of the machines, and alleges product liability against the machines' maker, Pennsylvania-based Custom Ultrasonic Inc.

Hatke, who underwent a gastroenterology procedure, received a letter April 26 informing him the instruments "had not been reliably and properly sterilized," the suit said.

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