New Legislation Proposed After Hep C Outbreak

"Common-sense" action is needed, an advocate said.

An Exeter lawmaker intends to file legislation to prevent another disaster like the hepatitis C outbreak that has infected at least 20 people.

State Rep. Lee Quandt, R-Exeter, plans to file two bills.

The first would require mandatory drug testing of state hospital employees. Exeter Hospital currently doesn't drug test its staff.

State health officials have said the hepatitis C outbreak was likely by an Exeter Hospital worker who was stealing drugs. That employee apparently used a tactic called drug diversion – where a worker shoots up drugs meant for patients and refills syringes with saline. Those syringes are later used on unsuspecting patients. If the worker has a disease, he/she can spread it through the dirty needles.

The second bill Quandt intends to file would require a four-day shutdown of hospital areas where outbreaks occur. Exeter Hospital reported its outbreak May 15 but didn't close a lab where the outbreak occurred until 10 days later. The hospital has been for the delay.

Quandt is working on the bills with State Rep. John Reagan, R-Deerfield, and former State Rep. Elenore Crane. Reagan is the chairman of the House Health, Human Services & Elderly Affairs Committee.

"It is time to take some common sense actions to ensure that every New Hampshire hospital is safe," said Crane.

The lawmakers plan to file their bills in the fall.

A criminal probe is in the Exeter outbreak.

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Stop the Stupid Comments June 21, 2012 at 07:38 PM
Common sense would be for lawmakers to realize that the drugs being diverted are not ones that show up in drug tests. They are so fast acting that they leave the system within hours....think about it...they are local drugs used during "semi-awake" procedures. If you don't believe me, do your research on fentanyl http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fentanyl It gives them a great high, but is out of the system in no time. So this is just a case of a politician grandstanding to make himself look good, but not actually getting anything accomplished. Screening hospital employees for Hep C and HIV would be a lot more useful, but a hell of a lot harder to get passed thru the legislature, so therefore they go for the low-hanging, headline making easy stuff. Its not going to stop or shorten the next outbreak, but it will help him get elected.
Stop the Stupid Comments June 21, 2012 at 07:44 PM
As to shutting down the outbreak site....that's a great idea, but sadly outbreaks don't come with address's attached. It takes a ton of digging to find out what random people had in common. It sounds easy, but one of the first patients had his Hep C id'd in a Boston hospital, after a procedure there. Patients with heart problems go to lots of diff hospitals, finding the common link is not as easy as this guy makes it sound.
Kara Leek June 22, 2012 at 12:44 PM
Totally agree with above two comments. Rep Quandt is "grandstanding," as usual - inteligent legislators do lots of research before proposing a bill in the house and senate, instead of just reacting without knowing the facts -- I wouldn't classify Rep Quandt as "intelligent." It's actually a huge disservice to the community that he and the media, such as this site, is promoting so much mis-information. Responsible journalism and responsible government is not being represented here. I find it disturbing and actually very sad that some are using this whole situation for self-serving purposes.


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