While telling everyone not to panic, New Hampshire is expanding the amount of patients at a particular hospital it says needs to be tested for hepatitis C, from 1,200 to 6,000. Meanwhile, new details have emerged regarding the hospital employee accused of being responsible for the outbreak, who allegedly would shoot himself up and then use the syringe on patients — turns out he was a traveling technician who worked in as many as eight other states.
The state’s health department is asking anyone who had surgery at the hospital or were admitted to the intensive care unit from April 1, 2011 to May 25, 2012 to be tested for the virus. Originally, it was thought that the outbreak would be limited to the hospital’s cardiac catheterization laboratory and recovery area.
“We have acquired some information that suggests the person that we believed caused this particular event had access to these rooms,” said Dr. Jose Montero, director of public health at the state Department of Health and Human Services, according to SeacoastOnline.com.
He urged people not to panic, as it’s believed that the risk of infection is much lower in those areas than the lab to which the outbreak was linked.
The former technician was charged last week in connection with the outbreak that so far has infected at least 30 hospital patients, prompting investigations in the other states where he worked. He’s accused of injecting himself with fentanyl then refilling the needles with other fluids, which he then used to treat patients.
The New Hampshire hospital is patting itself on the back for the arrest, as other hospitals he worked at didn’t do so sooner.
“We are saddened that those who reportedly discovered [the employee's] alleged drug diversion activities at other hospitals apparently failed to report them to law enforcement officials,” it said in a statement. “This inaction allegedly resulted in [the employee] being able to secure employment in other hospitals around the country, including Exeter Hospital.”
At one hospital in 2008 where the man worked, he was spotted lifting his shirt and dropping a syringe down his pants, according to a federal affidavit. A search revealed three empty syringes with fentanyl labels on them.
*Thanks for the tip, Christine!