Hepatitis C Outbreak
Current Status as of October 17, 2012
Q&A PERTAINING TO EXPANDED TESTING OF
EXETER HOSPITAL PATIENTS FOR HEPATITIS C
August 24, 2012
This is subject to change as new information becomes available.
More information can be found at the NHDPHS website: http://www.dhhs.state.nh.us/index.htm.
The NHDPHS expanded hepatitis c testing was scheduled at regional testing clinics for identified patients who were treated in Exeter Hospital’s Intensive Care Unit and Main Operating Room (excluding the Outpatient Surgery Center and the Family Center Procedure/Treatment Rooms) during the specified timeframe of April 1, 2011 to May 25, 2012.
Exeter Hospital’s confidential and convenient onsite testing for these patients was and continues to be offered at no charge. Identified patients who choose to be tested through Exeter Hospital are asked to call the hospital’s Information and Referral Center at 603-580-6124 to schedule an appointment. The Information and Referral Center is staffed Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
As of August 23 we had completed screenings or scheduled appointments for 1,081 of the identified patients in the expanded testing group, which is in addition to the more than 1,100 patients who were tested through Exeter Hospital several weeks ago.
Why did the state make a decision to expand the testing of patients for possible exposure to hepatitis c?
The State of New Hampshire Division of Public Health Services (DPHS) made a decision to expand testing to all patients who were treated in Exeter Hospital’s main Operating Room and Intensive Care Unit between April 1, 2011 and May 25, 2012. (This excludes the Outpatient Surgery Center procedure/operating rooms and also excludes the Family Center procedure/operating rooms.) This expanded testing has been offered as a result of information uncovered as part of the ongoing investigations and the fact David Kwiatkowski had occasional access to those areas as part of his routine duties to transport patients, but he was not involved with procedures or patient care in those areas. NHDPHS has informed Exeter Hospital and the public in their most recent statements that the risk of these patients actually being infected is very low.
How were patients identified for this expanded testing notified?
NHDPHS mailed letters to all identified patients. Unlike the previous testing that was coordinated by Exeter Hospital, NHDPHS has coordinated the expanded testing and, therefore, was responsible for the notification process. In support of their efforts, Exeter Hospital provided NHDPHS with a list of identified patients.
How many patients does this involve?
Approximately 3300 patients were identified for the expanded testing recommended by NHDPHS.
How and where is/was the testing going conducted?
Exeter Hospital continues to offer confidential and convenient onsite testing for identified patients at no charge. Identified patients who chose to be tested through Exeter Hospital are asked to call the hospital’s Information and Referral Center at 603-580-6124 to schedule an appointment.
NHDPHS continues to offer testing at regional sites. Identified patients who seek testing at a regional site should call NHDPHS at 603-271-4496 to schedule an appointment or visit www.dhhs.nh.gov for more information.
Is it possible the state will expand the recommendation for testing to patients who were treated
in other areas of the hospital during the specified timeframe?
The state has said they may expand testing to include other areas in the future based on results of the ongoing investigations.
Is it possible some patients in this group will test positive for hepatitis c not related to the outbreak at Exeter Hospital?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 1.8% of the entire US population has hepatitis C, therefore it is very likely the state will uncover unrelated cases of hepatitis c during the expanded testing. Regardless of whether any positive cases are linked back to this outbreak, Exeter Hospital is prepared to offer coordinated care and support for all infected individuals. We encourage everyone who is diagnosed at any time with hepatitis C to speak with their primary care physician immediately about their treatment options. As has been discussed previously, although a very serious disease, hepatitis C is treatable and the options for very effective treatment are increasing.
How can patients be sure Exeter Hospital is a safe place to receive care?
As has been well covered in the media, the alleged source of this outbreak has not worked at Exeter Hospital since May, 2012. Exeter Hospital undergoes rigorous annual and periodic inspections and accreditation surveys conducted by experts from multiple federal and state regulatory agencies including the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS), and Exeter Hospital’s accrediting agency.
Where can patients get further information about hepatitis c and the outbreak?
Patients in need of information specific to the Exeter outbreak may visit our website at http://www.exeterhospital.com/hepatitis-c-information/
Additional information can be found at the Division of Public Health’s website at www.dhhs.nh.gov/dphs/cdcs/hepatitisc/index.htm or the CDC site at www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/index.htm
Patients with specific questions should be referred to DPHS at 603-271-4496.