- Mass General Brigham and its facility Salem Hospital are facing a class action lawsuit after hundreds of patient were potentially exposed to hepatitis and HIV during routine care.
- The lawsuit was filed on behalf of endoscopy patient Melinda Cashman, who was among the up to 450 patients that may have been exposed to the viruses between June 2021 and April 2023.
- There is no evidence that any infections resulted from the exposures, said hospital spokesperson Adam Bagni. Still, the plaintiff’s lawyers alleged the health system acted negligently, and, in turn, Cashman suffered “extreme anxiety and emotional distress and decreased quality of life.”
The hospital notified possibly impacted patients earlier this month after the facility was made aware earlier this year of an “isolated practice” that could have led to viral transmission, according to a statement from Mass General Brigham.
"Once identified, the practice was immediately corrected, and the hospital's quality and infection control teams were notified,” the hospital said in an emailed statement.
Patients were potential exposed after intravenous medication was administered “in a manner not consistent with our best practice,” Mass General Brigham said in a statement Wednesday.
The practice involved a single contracted individual who no longer works at Salem Hospital, said MGB spokesperson Adam Bagni.
In the lawsuit, filed in Suffolk County Superior Court on Thursday, Cashman’s attorneys seek monetary damages for the health system’s negligence, stating their client and patients like her sustained “severe and permanent emotional distress,” as a result of the incident. They argue she and others impacted may experience disruptions to relationships, increased medical bills and a new need for significant mental health treatment.
MGB is also working with the Massachussetts Department of Public Health, which will conduct an onsite investigation into Salem’s quality control practices. Potentially impacted patients can call a clinician-staffed hotline with questions and receive free screening for the viruses, hospital officials said.
Bagni said via email that both the hospital and the public health agency had determined that infection risks to patients is “extremely small.”
Salem nor MGB specifically commented on the pending lawsuit by press time.