The Tulane University Medical Center and Clinic is facing a class action lawsuit in Orleans Parish Civil District Court after sending a letter to patients saying they may have been exposed to HIV and hepatitis through an non-sterilized endoscope.

In January, the Tulane Medical sent a letter to 360 patients explaining that part of a five-step process to sterilize the endoscope was not properly performed between October and December 2010.

Hospital CEO Robert Lynch signed the letter. It says that the hospital has contacted the Louisiana Department of health's Infectious Disease Epidemiology Section and other authorities who concluded, "the risk of infection is minimal to non-existent."

Tulane Medical also offered free screenings and medical monitoring to all affected patients. A call line has also been established for concerned patients.

Harvey attorney Ron Austin and New Orleans attorneys Kara Samuels and Robert David filed the lawsuit on Feb. 22.

It claims Tulane Medical "negligently exposed [patients] to infections diseases."

The lawsuit claims negligence under Louisiana Civil Code articles 2315 and 2316.

The suit was filed under the pseudonyms John and Jane Doe to protect their privacy, the suit says.

Among the damages named are past and future medical expenses, "reasonable fear and fright associated with contracting infectious diseases" and "loss of enjoyment of life".

The lawsuit requests trial by jury but does not seek a specific sum.

Orleans Parish Judge Paulette Irons has been assigned this case.

Orleans Parish Case 2011-1924

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