June 19, 2012 — Federal authorities are joining an investigation into a major hepatitis C outbreak at Exeter Hospital, located in New Hampshire. Investigators from the FBI and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have been brought in to determine whether the case against the hospital is criminal or civil. If the outbreak was caused by an infected employee diverting drugs or syringes (likely filled with painkillers), the case could be criminal. So far, 19 patients and one hospital worker have tested positive for hepatitis C. All of the patients were treated in a cardiac catheterization lab. It is likely that hundreds of people have been exposed to hepatitis C.
Experts became aware of the outbreak after four patients tested positive for hepatitis C at around the same time. All of the patients were treated at the cardiac catheterization lab at Exeter Hospital around the same time.
Exeter Hospital issued a press release to address the outbreak, but they have declined to comment on the pending lawsuits or criminal investigation. Officials are recommending that all people who were treated at the hospital after October 2010 should be tested for hepatitis C. The hospital officials announced that they had successfully contacted all identified patients by phone — an additional 316 patients. Exeter Hospital will be conducting its own investigation in addition to the ongoing investigations from the FBI, FDA, and others.
The hospital is facing an investigation from the state Attorney General’s Office, as well as a class action lawsuit that involves 23 people. The hospital is accused of negligence in failing to adequately supervise its staff. The people involved in the lawsuit are seeking damages for their hepatitis C infection, as well as paying for medication that they did not actually receive.
Drug diversion is a serious problem in hospitals around the world. It occurs when a health care employee steals a syringe containing painkillers, injects themselves with the drugs, re-fills the syringe with saline or water, and then returns the syringe to its original location. The dirty syringe is then used on a patient, who is then exposed to the employee’s blood diseases. The patient also fails to receive necessary painkillers before surgical operations.
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The Schmidt Firm, PLLC is currently accepting hospital malpractice induced injury cases in all 50 states. If you or somebody you know has been injured by Hepatitis C at a hospital, you should contact our lawyers immediately for a free case consultation. Please use the form below to contact our Hospital Malpractice Litigation Group or call toll free 24 hours a day at (866) 920-0753.
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