- The Washington Times - Saturday, July 3, 2004

BALTIMORE — A federal judge has dismissed a civil lawsuit filed against Maryland General Hospital, which has been under scrutiny for giving hundreds of patients suspect HIV and hepatitis C test results.

The lawsuit was filed by Kristin Turner, a former lab worker who blames a machine that was used for blood tests at the hospital for an accident in 2003 in which she contracted HIV and hepatitis C.

Miss Turner first notified city officials last year of widespread problems at the lab, leading to a state inspection.

U.S. District Judge Andre Davis ruled that Miss Turner could not file a claim against the hospital because of Maryland’s workers’ compensation law.

Under state law, employers usually are immune to employee lawsuits resulting from accidents because of workers’ compensation benefits. But Michael Pulver, Miss Turner’s attorney, claimed that Maryland General intentionally inflicted emotional distress on his client.

“We understood it would be an uphill battle to prove that count, but we thought we had enough to at least allege it so we could find out if we could, in fact, prove it,” Mr. Pulver said.

The Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations have found shortcomings in lab operations.

Reviews were prompted by concerns about validity tests on a piece of lab equipment between June 2002 and August 2003. Lee Kennedy, a spokesman for the hospital, declined to comment.

Miss Turner is seeking millions of dollars in damages.

“We still have a case going forward, so that’s the important thing,” Mr. Pulver said.

A settlement conference has been scheduled for Aug. 9 in U.S. District Court in Baltimore before Magistrate Judge Paul Grimm.

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