April 18, 2014
This article was reported by Washington Time.
The Washington Times reported that New Hampshire lawmakers are working to pass more legislation to monitor medical technicians in hopes of averting a similar situation from last year when a technician replaced stolen drugs with saline water tainted with his hepatitis C virus (HCV)-infected blood. The medical technician is now serving 39 years in prison for infecting 46 patients in four states with HCV.
The state House of Representatives passed two laws in response to this case, and the Senate currently is reviewing two additional bills. One of the Senate bills would require more allied healthcare professionals, such as medical technicians, to register with a newly created board. Many states across the country require this type of regulation for nurses and doctors but not medical technicians, including four of the states that employed the HCV-infected technician. The other bill before the Senate would require healthcare facilities to implement drug-free workplace policies and to drug-test employees if there is reasonable suspicion of usage.
Rep. Tom Sherman (D-Rye), a practicing gastroenterologist and co-sponsor of both bills, wants another bill to allow immunity for hospitals that provide information about employee misconduct. Sherman and another doctor in his small practice alerted Exeter Hospital when they realized they both had patients with HCV. The ensuing investigation led to the discovery of the infected technician's misconducts. Sherman believes the legislation is needed to prevent this type of incidence from happening again. "It was just luck," he said. "It was the structure of the group that brought this together, and that's just too much left to chance."