June 13, 2012

Drug diversion suspected in NH hepatitis C cases


Associated Press / June 13, 2012

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — An employee misusing drugs is the most likely cause of an outbreak of hepatitis C among patients who were treated at the Exeter Hospital’s cardiac catheterization lab, New Hampshire’s public health director said Wednesday.

‘‘Based on all the testing we've done, based on all the interviews we've performed with employees and with patients, the review of the hospital data — all of this information points toward drug diversion as the most plausible explanation,’’ Dr. Jose Montero said.

A total of 20 people, including a hospital worker, have been diagnosed with the same strain of the liver-destroying virus since the state began investigating the outbreak last month. Montero would not comment on the specific employee suspected of causing the outbreak or say whether law enforcement is involved, but he said drug diversion generally involves someone using a syringe to inject themselves with medication meant for patients and then re-using the syringe on patients.

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