Several plaintiffs filed a class-action lawsuit, in addition to many individual lawsuits, against Exeter Hospital in New Hampshire in regards to a hepatitis C outbreak. The plaintiffs are claiming the hospital is liable for medical negligence that caused extreme emotional distress as a result of being infected by hepatitis C, a blood-borne disease. The plaintiffs, so far 20 in all, are linked to the outbreak in the Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory and recovery room. The investigation into the outbreak centers on a hospital employee who was addicted to drugs. Thus far, more than 1,200 patients are thought to have been exposed to the blood-borne virus; at least half of them have been tested, but many are still waiting for the results or need to be retested due to a discrepancy in testing procedures.
Experts feel the hospital may avoid much of fault in the case, thus avoiding hefty payouts that could be awarded to the plaintiffs by the jury because of the state’s mandate for proportional fault. Under proportional fault, a jury must determine how much fault is placed on the hospital for the outbreak. If defense can prove the individual employee was more liable for the outbreak. The employee, who isn’t names in any of the suits, who has not appeared in court or provided any defense, would be responsible for the compensation awarded to plaintiffs if they win the suit.