A Superior Court judge denied Exeter Hospitals request for a protective order against providing hospital records to New Hampshire health officials as they investigate the Hepatitis C outbreak linked to the hospital.
Seacoastline.com reports Exeter Hospital sought the order because it claimed such access violated state and federal laws. However, the ruling judge declined the request and said that the state Department of Health and Human Services (DHSS) needed the records in order to conduct the investigation and that such an act would not violate any laws.
According to the ruling, the DHHS has shown that it is acquiring only the information required to complete the investigation and that it would refrain from acquiring any non-relevant information. The judge also cited the states responsibility to investigate the scope of the outbreak as a reason for his decision.
Seacoastline.com reports that 32 Exeter Hospital patients and David Kwiatkowski, the medical technician who allegedly abused hospital narcotics and spread the disease to others, tested positive for hepatitis C. In addition, 28 other Exeter patients had a hepatitis C infection cleared by their immune system in the past.
The states investigation into the outbreak has revealed that past blood transfusions carried out at the hospital could be particularly relevant and that there is a risk for potential infected patients in other areas of the hospital other than the cardiac catheterization lab so the medical records are needed to help the case move ahead.
In addition to the catheterization lab, Kwiatkowski also had access to the hospitals main operating room and intensive care unit, according to Seacoastline.com.