Class-action lawsuit filed against Washington hospital over possible exposure to hep C

A second lawsuit has been filed against Puyallup, Wash.-based MultiCare Good Samaritan Hospital over a possible exposure of hepatitis C linked to the hospital that may have exposed approximately 2,600 patients to the infection, according to The News Tribune.

The class-action lawsuit was filed in Pierce County Superior Court May 11, and accuses the hospital and its parent company, Tacoma, Wash.-based MultiCare Health System, of breaching its care duties to the roughly 2,600 affected patients. The lawsuit is the second legal action against the hospital, as a former patient filed a lawsuit against the institution last week.

The plaintiff in the case, listed as "M.N.," was reportedly treated at MultiCare Good Samaritan Hospital's emergency department on Dec. 25, 2017, according to the lawsuit. The individual was one of hundreds who received a notice from the hospital last month indicating she may have been exposed to hepatitis C and recommending additional testing.

According to the lawsuit, the female patient agreed to undergo further testing and tested negative for hepatitis C, hepatitis B and HIV. However, attorneys for the patient said the woman and other patients will likely face re-tests and suffered damages as a result, as they cannot be certain of whether they contracted the virus until its latency period has passed. The patients have been forced to endure worry, stress, inconvenience and the "physical invasion and other effects of the testing process," the report states.

The lawsuit also references former MultiCare Good Samaritan Hospital nurse Cora Weberg, 31, who hospital officials have claimed is the "common denominator" between two patients who were initially identified as having contracted hepatitis C at the hospital. Police arrested Ms. Weberg last week, but released her the following day without charges. The state's nursing commission also suspended her nursing license last week, citing unprofessional conduct.

In her first public appearance last week, Ms. Weberg admitted to taking drugs from the hospital, but claimed she was not the carrier of hepatitis C. Health department officials have linked the first two patients, stating they contracted the virus from the same genetic source. However, officials have not established a genetic link between the two patients and Ms. Weberg.

The class-action lawsuit, however, names Ms. Weberg as the source of the exposure, alleging she infected patients with needles she had previously used on herself — a claim lawyers told The News Tribune is "based upon information and belief," according to the report.

A spokesperson for the hospital told The News Tribune in an emailed statement, "We have not been served with any lawsuit related to this incident therefore we cannot comment. However, our focus remains on making sure every patient potentially exposed is tested and any who are infected are treated. So far, nearly 1,200 people have been screened. We encourage the other 1,450 people who received letters from us to visit one of our lab locations, which can be found at multicare.org/safety-alert."

To access the full News Tribune report, click here.

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