North Dakota Nursing Home at Fault for Hepatitis Outbreak

July 2, 2014

The Minot, N.D., nursing home where dozens of residents contracted hepatitis C last year has filed a lawsuit against Trinity Health that claims the health care provider is responsible for the outbreak.

Forty-six people were infected last year with the virus that can cause serious liver damage and even death. All but one of them had spent time at the ManorCare Health Services nursing home, according to KXMC-TV in Minot.

The lawsuit, which ManorCare filed in federal court last week, alleges that one Trinity Health employee is responsible for the spread of the disease that was first reported in August 2013. It says Trinity, which handles some services for ManorCare, should have been aware of “serious longstanding problems” with the employee’s phlebotomy, or blood service, practices.

Hepatitis C, caused by a virus that results in an infection of the liver, is primarily transmitted by blood-to-blood contact. Some people who get it recover, but most carry the virus in their blood for the course of their lifetime and can develop chronic infection.

The worker, who’s listed in court documents only as “Employee A,” allegedly performed the majority of Trinity’s phlebotomy services at ManorCare. ManorCare says it had no duty to supervisor control the employee in question.

The lawsuit also alleges that when investigators from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the North Dakota Department of Health came to ManorCare in September to observe procedures that may have caused the outbreak, “Employee A” was absent, citing a family illness.

The lawsuit asks for trial by jury and the amount of damages to be decided by jury as well.

Trinity has two weeks to file a response to the lawsuit. A Trinity Health spokesman did not immediately return a call from The Associated Press on Sunday.

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