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Exeter Hospital Faces Dozens of Lawsuits Over Hepatitis C Outbreak

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New Hampshire's Exeter Hospital faces dozens of lawsuits after at least 27 patients that visited the cardiac catheterization lab acquired Hepatitis C. The New Hampshire Department of Health announced on Monday that the outbreak was likely attributable to prescription drug diversion, or the misuse of a drug for a non-medicinal purpose. Drug diversion is a major problem among some healthcare workers, who may use syringes to inject patients' medications, thereby spreading diseases like Hepatitis C.

Hepatitis C is a disease that causes inflammation of the liver and can lead to chronic problems. Most people are not even aware that they have Hepatitis C until liver damage shows up on routine medical exams years later. However, symptoms can include fever, fatigue, nausea or poor appetite, muscle and joint pain, or tenderness in the liver area.

A total of 59 patients have filed suit, with 12 individual cases and 47 in a class action lawsuit. The hospital says that it has contacted patients who were treated between October 1, 2010 and May 25, 2012 in the cardiac catheterization lab or recovery room to urge them to get tested for Hepatitis C. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that there were 13 health care-related Hepatitis C outbreaks between 2008 and 2011.