A Washington state hospital faces a new class action lawsuits over a hepatitis C outbreak, alleging that several thousand patients may have been exposed to the virus from an infected nurse.
The complaint was filed against MultiCare Health System in Pierce County Superior Court, indicating that the company potentially exposed 2,600 patients treated at Good Samaritan Hospital in Puyallup. It is the second such lawsuit filed over the incident.
The plaintiff, identified only as M.N., indicates that she received a letter from the hospital in April, which warned that she might have been exposed to hepatitis C after being treated at the emergency room in December. While her tests have come up negative, the lawsuit indicates that she will likely require re-testing and is still unsure whether she may have contracted the virus, which could show up on tests at a later date after the hospital told her and other patients they may need a second round of testing.
The hospital issued a safety alert over the hepatitis C risk late last month, indicating that at least two patients had been infected by a nurse who is suspected of stealing injectable drugs. It is unclear how the thefts resulted in patients being infected, according to the hospital.
The nurse, Cora Weberg, was arrested and released without being charged. She no longer works at the hospital and her licenses was suspended by the state Nursing Commission.
Weberg has said that she stole the drugs to try to attempt suicide, and indicated that she does not have hepatitis C and does not know how the patients became infected. However, the lawsuit claims that Weberg is likely the source of the infections, and probably passed the infection to patients by reusing needles.
Good Samaritan’s Chief Medical Officer, David Bachman, said that it is likely that more patients have been infected.
Hepatitis C is a liver infection that is caused by contracting the hepatitis C virus (HCV). The infection is a blood-borne virus that can cause long term liver disease and if not treated may result in chronic infections that can lead to lifelong liver complications and even death. The virus is spread by open exposure of infected blood, and transmissions of the virus are usually a result of sharing needles or other medical equipment to inject drugs.