About 60 patients of Exeter Hospital in New Hampshire have filed complaints or joined class action lawsuits against the facility over the hepatitis C outbreak, which health officials believe may have been caused by a “drug diversion” scenario, when hospital employees steal medications from the hospital, inject the drugs, and then reuse the contaminated needles on patients.
12 patients filed individual lawsuits against the hospital, while another 47 joined a class action. Foster’s Daily Democrat reports that one employee and 26 patients have been diagnosed with an identical hepatitis C virus. Thus far, the cardiac catheterization lab is the common denominator.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office and the New Hampshire Attorney General are investigating the outbreak to determine if criminal charges can be brought. Three other hospitals in the US have reported “drug diversion” outbreaks over the past eleven years, the CDC reports.
10 of the plaintiffs have tested positive for hepatitis C, 20 are awaiting their test results, while the rest have tested negative but have sued due to the health scare.
Exeter Hospital has refused to comment on the situation, pending litigation and investigations.