New Hampshire Attorney General Michael A. Delaney has announced that his office is investigating a hepatitis C outbreak at Exeter Hospital. Delaney said that his office “has worked and continues to work with the Exeter Police Department and the New Hampshire State Police” in an effort to discover if criminal acts played a role in the outbreak.
According to Foster’s Daily Democrat, New Hampshire health officials announced this week that it is their belief that the outbreak was caused by an employee who stole drugs from the hospital, injected them, then reused the contaminated medical equipment in the hospital. This type of ‘drug diversion’ has caused hepatitis outbreaks in at least three other hospitals in the US over the last 10 years, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.
Exeter Hospital released a statement that said that it, “welcomes this investigation, and is planning to cooperate with the Attorney General’s Office as we continue our own investigation into the possible cause.”
A hospital employee has been diagnosed with hepatitis C and has been placed on leave, though it is unclear if the employee is a victim or the source of the outbreak. The employee did work in the cardiac catheterization laboratory, where the outbreak is believed to have started, but the employee did not have a “direct patient care role” there.
At least two patients who contracted hepatitis C during the outbreak have filed lawsuits against Exeter Hospital.