August 8, 2013

Hep C Outbreak Spurs N.H. Bills

blogger_HCVConcord — New Hampshire could become the first state in the country to maintain a registry of licensed medical technicians, partly in hopes of encouraging a national registry, which some officials say could have prevented a technician at Exeter Hospital from allegedly infecting dozens of people with hepatitis C.

The idea is contained in one of two bills related to the Exeter case that legislators are reviewing this summer. Both bills were sponsored in the last session by Exeter Democratic Rep. Tim Copeland in response to the hepatitis C virus outbreak at Exeter Hospital, allegedly spread by David Kwiatkowski, a technician who had previously worked — and allegedly had drug problems on the job — in hospitals in six other states before working in New Hampshire.

More than 40 cases of hepatitis nationwide have been attributed to Kwiatkowski. He is due to stand trial in federal court next year on drug charges stemming from the allegations.

One of the bills under consideration would require health care facilities to randomly test employees for drug use at least four times annually.

A proposed amendment, supported by the state Department of Health and Human Services and health care providers, removes the random testing provision and instead requires providers to institute a policy outlining procedures for drug testing and educating workers about drug addiction and proper monitoring and storage of controlled substances.

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