New Hampshire HCV Case Far from Over

The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services said Exeter Hospital began testing some employees and medical staffers Aug. 27. Fewer than 100 are now recommended for testing, and it is voluntary.

Fewer than 100 employees and medical staffers of Exeter Hospital in New Hampshire may be tested to rule out the possibility anyone except David Kwiatkowski was involved in the hepatitis C outbreak there that has involved at least 31 patients.

The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services' Division of Public Health Services recommended Aug. 15 that more than 500 be tested and also decided to make the testing voluntary. DHPS came back Aug. 29 with more narrow criteria that limit the number to fewer than 100, according to a hospital news release dated Aug. 30.

"While the hospital has expressed its concerns regarding the breadth of the state's original request for employee testing based on the information made available to it by the state, from the beginning, Exeter Hospital has complied with their recommendations. This is a fluid situation and Exeter Hospital will continue to cooperate with the state's investigation, but in so doing will not jeopardize the legitimate privacy rights of patients and employees," its release said.

The hospital also is seeking legal guidance for how much access to its medical records to grant to the departmental investigators. So far, DPHS has asked for more than the hospital believes it can legally provide without violating patient privacy laws, so the hospital sought guidance from New Hampshire Superior Court in Merrimack County.

According to DPHS, the hospital notified its employees and began collecting specimens on Aug. 27.

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