According to U.S. News, Trinity Health has reached, at least in principle, a hepatitis C lawsuit settlement that has been pending in North Dakota. The plaintiffs’ attorney, Behdad Sadeghi, indicated that the settlement involving 21 of the victims still needed to be finalized. Even so, attorneys for Trinity filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit based on a pending settlement.
Hepatitis C is a virus that affects the liver. Most of the people who are infected with Hepatitis C have chronic health problems or die. A small percentage, 15 to 30 percent, recover with no lasting effects. According to the, CDC, out of every 100 individuals infected with the disease, 75 to 85 percent will develop chronic infection, 60 to 70 percent chronic liver disease, 1 to 5 will die as a result of the chronic infections, and 5 to 20 percent cirrhosis over the long term.
The initial lawsuit was filed in 2014 after an outbreak of hepatitis C occurred at ManorCare. According to Fox News, in 2013 more than 50 people contracted the illness while staying at the nursing home. While the cause of the outbreak has yet to be discovered, the plaintiffs’ lawsuit alleges that a Trinity outpatient laboratory service employee violated infection control policies and reused needles. Government health officials suspect the outbreak was related to foot or nail care or to blood services that were provided to the residents of the nursing home. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC, notes that the most common method of transmitting the disease is through needle sharing.
Trinity blamed the outbreak on ManorCare and denied that it was responsible. ManorCare blamed Trinity and alleged that Trinity had fraudulently blamed them and it suffered damages. As a result of the hepatitis C outbreak, ManorCare sold the nursing home at a price that was much lower than its value. In 2010, the facility was worth $23 million; after the hepatitis C outbreak basically destroyed its business, it was sold for under $8 million.
At the beginning of the victims lawsuit, ManorCare joined as a plaintiff. It later dropped out of the lawsuit and filed a lawsuit against Trinity on its own behalf in federal court. That case has been placed on hold pending resolution of the state victim lawsuit.
Hepatitis C is a serious disease that has no known cure. Although the most common method of transmission is needles, a person that is infected can pass the disease to others through sexual contact, and any other method where contact with his blood, or blood contaminated objects, has occurred. I do not believe that those scenarios are likely in a nursing home, especially in this case where so many were infected. Whether it was the fault of Trinity or of ManorCare, it is horrendous that medical health professionals would endanger the lives of people by taking less than adequate precautions.