ManorCare blames contractor for hepatitis outbreak in new filing


ManorCare Health Services has filed a new motion in federal court stating its contractor was responsible for one of the largest outbreaks of Hepatitis C ever seen in the United States.

More than 40 people were infected with the liver disease at the 114-bed facility in Minot, ND, in 2013. ManorCare Health Services has accused Trinity Health Services of failing to train its phlebotomists and ignoring suspicions that employees were re-using needles to draw blood, according to court documents filed this month in federal court. ManorCare is seeking punitive damages against Trinity in the case, which is pending in the U.S. District Court for the District of North Dakota.

“Trinity tolerated and concealed behavior by its employees and contractors that violated the most fundamental standards of infection control and patient safety, and presented an obvious recipe for a hepatitis C outbreak,” the document stated.

Plaintiffs originally filed a class action lawsuit against ManorCare but withdrew it due to a new belief Trinity Health is solely responsible and allowing drug diversion, a local television station reported.

Trinity Health said it would not respond to questions due to pending litigation. However, “Trinity will be filing its opposition to ManorCare's recent motion in accordance with the rules of court,”  Randy Schwan, Trinity Health vice president, said in a statement.

ManorCare also declined further comment due to ongoing legal proceedings but thanked its supporters in a statement.

“At ManorCare Health Services-Minot, we remain committed to supporting those affected by the outbreak, and are thankful for the continued trust that our patients and their families place in us,” a statement sent to McKnight's said.

 

The outbreak made up a quarter of all hepatitis C cases since 2008, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While injection drug users are often at highest risk of contracting the disease, it can be spread through any re-used needle or syringe.