A victim of the second largest hepatitis C outbreak in U.S. history has filed a class action lawsuit over the incident of patients at ManorCare Nursing Home being infected with hepatitis C.
The record setting number of confirmed cases has commanded the attention of the North Dakota Department of Health and federal authorities as they investigate the oubreak. The law firms of Zimmerman Reed and Solberg Stewart Miller filed the lawsuit Wednesday in federal court on behalf of individuals infected with hepatitis C at the ManorCare facility in Minot. The North Dakota Department of Health reports that at least 44 people have been infected at the facility.
Hepatitis C is a viral infection of the liver that can cause chronic health problems, including liver damage, liver failure, liver cancer or even death. The health effects are likely to be more severe and progress faster in elderly patients. The disease is spread by direct exposure to blood from someone infected with the virus, usually through needles or syringes.
The initial Department of Health investigation in August 2013 indicated that these infections were all genetically linked and only affected patients and residents of ManorCare, suggesting the outbreak is associated with a common source.
Gordon Rudd, an attorney for the victims, said, "This is a nearly unprecedented situation. A mostly elderly population is now living with the reality that they are highly susceptible to developing the serious symptoms associated with hepatitis C."
The complaint alleges that ManorCare breached its duty to properly care for patients and residents, and failed to comply with state and federal regulations governing nursing homes. The complaint further alleges that such an outbreak is not ordinarily, or ever, associated with routine health care procedures. According to the Infectious Disease Director at Trinity Health, Dr. Casmiar Nwaigwe, "No matter how you do the statistics, it is impossible for it to be an accident."