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Medical malpractice cases settled after hepatitis C outbreak

Heading to a hospital or doctor's office should make you feel safe, not like you could be exposed to dangerous viruses or bacteria. However, for some people from New Jersey, New York and other areas that may have visited the Exeter Hospital in New Hampshire, one hospital visit led to a hepatitis C infection. Now, around two-thirds of patients who sued for being infected with hepatitis C have settled their medical malpractice cases, according to an attorney for the hospital.

According to the attorney, 23 of the 33 patient lawsuits have been settled, and the rest should be mediated within the next few months. He reported that any cases that aren't resolved in mediation will be settled at trial in 2015. Right now, the civil lawsuits are seeking to hold the hospital responsible for the hiring and management of a man who is now serving 39 years in prison for stealing painkillers and then replacing them with saline-filled syringes tainted with his blood.

That man had been a cardiac technician in seven states before getting hired in New Hampshire in 2011. He had previously been fired a number of times for drug allegations, according to the news. In fact, the lawsuit alleges that since the man's arrest in 2012, 46 people in New Hampshire, Maryland, Kansas and Pennsylvania have all been diagnosed with the strain of hepatitis C that the man was suffering from. The man has also traveled to New York, Michigan, Arizona and Georgia.

Lawsuits are still continuing at this time, but fortunately, some of the patients who had been infected have been treated successfully and are now fully recovered. The hepatitis C virus can cause liver disease and chronic health problems, which is why the patients have filed lawsuits against the hospital for this serious infection.

Source:  The New Jersey Herald, "More lawsuits over hepatitis C outbreak settled" Holly Ramer, May. 02, 2014

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