Hospital Says Employee May Have Spread Hepatitis C By Getting High & Injecting Patients With Used Syringe

Health officials in New Hampshire are trying to track down what could have caused an outbreak of hepatitis C at one particular hospital. One scary possibility? An employee abused drugs and then used that used syringe to inject patients. Shudder.

The state’s public health director says an investigation into the outbreak is still inconclusive after three weeks, but that the employee scenario is being explored as a possibility. In the last decade, that’s been the case at three medical facilities in the country, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

There are currently 14 cases in the hospital’s outbreak, reports the Bangor Daily News, all linked by the hospital’s cardiac catheterization laboratory and recovery area.

Officials are stressing that there are three different areas investigators are looking at, and the possibility of the employee and the contaminated syringe is just one of those three thus far.

“The three things are still on the table, and we’re still actively looking into those three things,” said Dr. Jose Montero, the state public health director.

When asked if there’s evidence pointing to the employee being a factor, he replied, “I’m not saying ‘Yes’ or ‘No.’ I’m telling you I don’t feel that it is appropriate for me to disclose any of the findings until I know more about them.”

All 879 patients who were treated at the lab since April 2011 have been contacted by the hospital and asked to get tested for hepatitis C. The earliest known case is September 2011.

*Thanks for the tip, Christine!

NH explores drug use by hospital employee in major hepatitis C outbreak [Bangor Daily News]

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