Hospital worker charged in NH hepatitis C outbreak

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“We should be able to go into a hospital, put our lives in their hands and know that we’re going to be OK,” she said.

State and local health departments aren’t required to report such outbreaks to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but in a report released in June, the agency said it was notified of 13 outbreaks nationwide between 2008 and 2011. Of those, seven occurred in outpatient facilities; most were traced to unsafe injection practices.

At least two have resulted in criminal charges, including a Colorado woman who was convicted of stealing syringes filled with painkillers from two hospitals where she worked and replacing them with used syringes. The syringes were later used on surgical patients, and up to three dozen patients were found to have hepatitis C after being exposed.

Kacavas said New Hampshire is working with the CDC, law enforcement and departments of public health in other states where Kwiatkowski worked.

“I’m unaware of such a scheme with such reach,” he said. “This one has the potential for very far-reaching implications.”

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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