A Proposed Nationwide Reporting System to Satisfy the Ethical Obligation to Prevent Drug Diversion-Related Transmission of Hepatitis C in Healthcare Facilities

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Abstract

In 2012, dozens of patients of Exeter Hospital in New Hampshire contracted new hepatitis C infections that were tracked back to a cardiac technician who ultimately confessed to drug diversion. A multistate epidemiological investigation of hepatitis C cases occurring in multiple hospitals revealed that the technician had been fired from prior institutions due to similar drug diversion activity, about which Exeter Hospital had not been notified. In this article, we highlight the institutional ethical issues raised by this outbreak, and propose a national centralized reporting system to support institutional fulfillment of the ethical obligation to protect the health of patients by preventing such nosocomial outbreaks.

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