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Reuters Health Information (2012-06-14): New Hampshire police probe hospital hepatitis outbreak


New Hampshire police probe hospital hepatitis outbreak

Last Updated: 2012-06-14 19:58:01 -0400 (Reuters Health)

LITTLETON, N.H. (Reuters) - New Hampshire state police have launched a criminal investigation into a hepatitis C outbreak that has sickened 20 people linked to a cardiac laboratory at a hospital in the town of Exeter, the state attorney general's office said.

The source of the outbreak may be a practice known as drug diversion, when a hospital staff member injects himself or herself with medication intended for patients and later uses the same syringe on patients.

"There is this question of drug diversion and whether we have a potential drug diverter in our organization," Kevin Callahan, chief executive officer of Exeter Health Resources, said in an interview taped for television station WMUR.

All 20 people with the disease had been to a laboratory that performs cardiac catheterization at Exeter Hospital. One of those infected was an employee of the hospital. The other 19 were patients.

The hospital announced the first diagnoses on May 31 and said it had temporarily closed the lab in question. It is now testing all patients who used the lab since October 2010.

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