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Hospital employee may have infected patients

A hospital employee with hepatitis C may have infected patients treated at a hospital's heart lab since October 1, 2010. Victims of this nurse error may now be at risk for liver disease, a common result of the virus.

Hospital officials issued an alert after 20 people who either worked at or were treated at the lab tested positive for the virus. The infected hospital employee is suspected to have diverted part of a drug dose by injecting it, and then administering the remaining portion to patients using the same needle.

The suspect has not been identified publicly because the investigation is still ongoing. Officials fear that more cases of hepatitis C that match the employee's strain are yet to be discovered. For that reason, hospital officials plan to test more than 900 people for the virus.

Infection of hepatitis C by negligent nursing staff is a serious matter. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, liver disease caused by the virus results in 12,000 deaths nationwide each year.

When you check into a hospital, your treatment is often administered by a team of health professionals. Every member on that team must be held accountable to fulfilling his or her role and providing you with a professional standard of care. Any deviation -- by even one member in that team -- may disrupt your recovery or cause you injury.

If your injury was caused by negligent hospital staff or nurse errors, an attorney can determine whether there is adequate evidence to hold the hospital accountable and recover compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering and other damages.

Source: CNN, "Spate of hepatitis C cases linked to New Hampshire's Exeter Hospital," Maggie Schneider, June 13, 2012

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