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Hepatitis C outbreak leads to numerous medical malpractice suits

Not only can doctors be held accountable for medical malpractice but hospitals also have duties to the patients who walk through the doors. When hospitals hire their medical staff and employees, they are required to make a reasonable inquiry into the applicant's background and into whether they are property educated, trained and licensed. Failure to make these inquiries as a result of a hospital error may lead to a negligence lawsuit if anyone is injured as a result.

By way of example, one hospital was recently sued in connection with a nationwide hepatitis C outbreak caused by a traveling technician employed by the hospital. The technician also worked in a number of other hospitals, including at least one hospital in Michigan.

Specifically, the man supposedly stole drugs from a hospital in New Hampshire and injected himself with the drugs using syringes. These same syringes were also used on patients. The man has hepatitis C, and he spread his disease to several patients.

The hospital is facing at least 25 civil suits. Interestingly, the attorney for the hospital is attempting to limit the discovery process in some of these pending cases. The attorney stated that the multitude of actions pending is a good reason for limiting the discovery. Because all of the claims have similar allegations, the attorney feels it would be a better use of resources to consolidate the process rather than to provide important information to each plaintiff individually.

The attorney for a number of the claimants that tested positive for hepatitis C said that the hospital should not be allowed to delay any further in the discovery process, even though the plaintiff's attorney will have a chance in November to get the case qualified as a class action lawsuit.

When patients get injured by the criminal or careless actions of a hospital employee, they may be entitled to compensation. Should they choose to file suit, however, the hospital may be unwilling to hand over employment records and other important evidence absent a court order. Injured patients may need to know how to secure this order in order to get the fair compensation they deserve.

Source: Seacoast Online, "Exeter Hospital fights back against hepatitis C lawsuits," Aaron Sanborn, Oct. 2, 2012

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