Exeter Hospital in New Hampshire is challenging an order by the state's Division of Public Health Services to release patient records as part of an investigation into a hepatitis C outbreak, which is believed to have originated at the facility, FierceHealthcare reports (Cheung-Larivee, FierceHealthcare, 8/31).
Background on Hepatitis C Outbreak
In July, David Kwiatkowski -- a lab technician who was formerly employed by Exeter Hospital -- was arrested in connection to a hepatitis C outbreak that affected more than 30 patients.
Kwiatkowski, who has hepatitis C, allegedly stole fentanyl-filled syringes from the hospital. Authorities say Kwiatkowski injected the drugs and then refilled the contaminated syringes with another substance (McKinney, Modern Healthcare, 8/31).
Exeter's Response to Request for Records
Exeter in a statement said the state's request for "broad access" to patient medical records "extends beyond what we believe we are allowed to provide in accordance with patient privacy laws."
Last week, the hospital filed a court action requesting guidance in "this challenging intersection between individual privacy and the DPHS' desire to examine confidential patient medical records" (FierceHealthcare, 8/31).
Exeter officials are seeking an expedited hearing and ruling in the matter. In the meantime, the hospital said it will provide investigators with "limited access" to records (Modern Healthcare, 8/31).