Report Cites N.H. Hospital as Hepatitis C Clinic Opens
A new federal report cites the New Hampshire hospital at the center of a hepatitis C outbreak for failing to properly supervise narcotics. Syringes were left unattended by nurses at Exeter Hospital’s cardiac catheterization lab, according to the report by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. The hospital has now changed its policy to secure syringes awaiting use on patients, the CMS report said.
A state health investigation began in June, and 31 former Exeter patients have been found to carry the same hepatitis C strain as David Kwiatkowski, a hospital technician arrested last month on drug charges. The 33-year-old technician denies he stole drugs from the lab and contaminated syringes later used on patients.
A review of practices found that medication was dispensed from a Pyxis machine, a medication cart that included a fingerprint scan and password protection, and the drug would be drawn up into a syringe. However, after the medication was dispensed it was placed on an unsecured cart in the lab procedure room, the review said. The drug also may have been left unattended briefly while an employee responsible for it was putting on a lead apron, said the report.
The hospital said that under a new policy implemented June 12, syringes containing medication must be placed into a secure drawer in the Pyxis machine until they are needed.
New Hampshire Health Department officials recommend testing for about 3,300 patients admitted to intensive care or who had surgery at Exeter during Kwiatkowski’s employment. On Friday and Saturday, NHHD tested patients at a clinic held at the Cooperative Middle School in Stratham. Other clinics will be conducted in Plaistow, Rochester, and Manchester.
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