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Patients infected with Hepatitis C seek to find insurer liable

As readers of this blog are likely aware, many individuals have been injured as a result of getting Hepatitis C allegedly from a lab technician who, as a temporary employee at hospitals throughout the nation including Pennsylvania, infected patients. The infections reportedly occurred at the various hospitals when he used an infected needle to withdraw certain drugs meant for the patient and replaced them with saline. The man then used the drugs himself.

While widespread, this is not the only situation however where the behaviors of a health care professional has allegedly led to patients contracting Hepatitis C.

Several patients of an endoscopy clinic located in another state have filed a lawsuit after contracting Hepatitis C after visiting the clinic. The Centers for Disease Control determined the clinic was the source of the outbreak and the claim filed in the matter alleges the disease was spread due to conditions at the clinic described as "unsanitary." It also claims that procedures followed by the clinic created a risk to the health of patients. The lawsuit alleges that the insurance company Health Plan of Nevada should be liable for the actions of the clinic because it has a duty to only bring those who are qualified into its insurance network.

Not surprisingly, the insurer disagrees with this allegation. It claims that in determining which practitioners are qualified, it looks to the agencies that certify and license each doctor. It further asserts that the doctor at the clinic allegedly responsible for the spread made took the actions which led to the spread of the disease on his own accord.

The case is being heard by a jury. We will provide updates on it as they become available.

Source: KXNT, "Insurer's Duty to Monitor Care is Central Question in Civil Suit," Feb. 22, 2013

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