Following the largest outbreak of Hepatitis C in recent U.S. history, the hospital system and its primary health provider have agreed to a settlement with 21 of the victims – mostly nursing home residents – were infected. Attorneys for the health service, Trinity Health, asked a state judge in North Dakota to dismiss the pending lawsuit, asserting the defendant had reached a confidential settlement that resolved plaintiff’s claims. The health services defendant also asked for the judge to continue to allow the legal dispute between the hospital and ManorCare, the nursing home where most of the patients contracted the disease, to be resolved instead in state court. The court hasn’t yet ruled.
Although the settlement still isn’t finalized, plaintiffs’ attorneys said an agreement had been reached “in principle.”
For those unfamiliar, Hepatitis C is a type of viral infection that can result in severe liver damage and even death. You may recall that back in August 2013, there were 52 people who became sickened in this particular outbreak. Of those, 48 were current or former residents of ManorCare, according to records from the state’s health department. The U.S. Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) reported it was the largest outbreak of its kind in 13 years.
Although state and federal officials have not officially declared an exact cause, they have indicated their suspicions were that residents of the nursing home were exposed to the virus either while receiving blood services, nail care or foot care. The victims and the nursing home say the problem started with the health care service provider, when an employee in the outpatient laboratory reportedly reused needles and failed to follow accepted infection control practices.
The nursing home later filed a lawsuit against the health services provider, alleging the company falsely accused it of being responsible for the outbreak, causing the value of the facility to fall from $23 million in 2010 to $8 million in 2015.
The victims, meanwhile, allege they have endured pain and suffering and humiliation and also incurred heavy medical expenses. Treatments for Hepatitis C include expensive drugs – and many patients can’t afford it. Three of them have reportedly died from the effects of the disease.
They filed their personal injury lawsuit in 2014, seeking unspecified monetary damages. A number of them also later joined the nursing home in its litigation against Trinity, the health care services provider.
The health care services provider has said the nursing home has misstated the facts.
ManorCare is a national nursing home provider, while Trinity operates in 10 medical centers in North Dakota.
The CDC reports there were 59 outbreaks of viral hepatitis related to health care centers between 2008 and 2015. Of these, 93 percent occurred in non-hospital settings – which includes nursing homes. Of those, 33 outbreaks were for Hepatitis C (involving a total of 239 people) while 23 involved Hepatitis B (involving a total of 175 people).
Other types of facilities where Heptitis C outbreaks were reported include:
- Insulin infusion clinics
- Pain management clinics
- Cardiology clinics
- Hemotalogy oncology clinics
- Outpatient clinics
- Surgery centers
Although these outbreaks occur far too frequently, they are absolutely preventable. They occur when individuals fail to follow proper hygienic practices. Those affected may have grounds to pursue litigation to recover costs for treatment, as well as for pain and suffering.
Contact the Carolina injury lawyers at the Lee Law Offices by calling 800-887-1965.
Hospital, hepatitis C outbreak victims reach settlement, Aug. 31, 2016, By Blake Nicholson, Associated Press
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