This case involves a thirty-eight-year-old female who recently contracted hepatitis C after she was being treated at a pain management center with epidural injections. A nurse anesthetist admitted to health officials that he reused needles and syringes to inject pain medication through intravenous tubes at the pain management clinic and at two nearby surgical centers. The defense’s claim is that some experts allege health practitioners may not be aware that reusing needles is dangerous because the needles are inserted into tubes rather than under the skin.
Question(s) For Expert Witness
- 1. What is the normal route of transmission of this disease, and is it possible that this patient contracted the virus from reused syringes?
Expert Witness Response E-000582
More than four million people in the United States are infected with hepatitis C, and experts say the virus is frequently transmitted when an infected drug addict shares a hypodermic needle with an uninfected person. Therefore, it is possible that the plaintiff contracted hepatitis C in the manner described in the case. Hepatitis C is the most virulent form of the hepatitis virus and, in some cases, can lead to serious liver damage and liver cancer. While some people can naturally overcome the virus, an estimated 50% to 70% of those infected remain chronically infected. The disease is treated with a combination of interferon and the drug ribavirin.