ANN ARBOR, Mich. —The Michigan Department of Community Health has been investigating the employment history of a Hepatitis C-positive health care worker who was recently arrested in New Hampshire for allegedly obtaining injectable narcotics at hospitals there, and infecting patients with the Hepatitis C virus through used syringes.
An internal review requested by MDCH shows that the individual worked at the U-M Health System for three months of 2006; from Sept. 11 to Dec. 8. He was an interventional radiologic technologist, a position in the Department of Radiology’s interventional radiology procedures unit team for vascular interventional procedures. He did not have responsibility for administering medication to patients.
The investigation has not uncovered evidence that the individual was, in fact, infected with Hepatitis C while employed at UMHS or any other Michigan facility. There was no increase in the number of cases of Hepatitis C reported in the last quarter of 2006 after he worked at UMHS, as well as no increase in the number of cases for subsequent years.
As a precaution, patients who received injectable narcotics at the U-M Health System’s main medical campus in Ann Arbor from Sept. 11 – Dec. 8, 2006, may contact 877-233-4040, toll free. The call center for patient inquiries will open July 31 at 8 a.m. Patients who call will receive personalized help to determine whether they need testing for Hepatitis C. If testing is recommended, it will be offered free of charge.
Due to the length of time since potential exposure, a positive Hepatitis C test result for patients who were treated during this employee’s tenure at UMHS will not conclusively prove that hepatitis C was acquired at UMHS.
The individual under investigation worked in at least five other Michigan health care facilities from 2003-2007 and has been infected with Hepatitis C since at least June 2010. Read the Michigan Department of Community Health press release for a complete list of Michigan health institutions for which this individual worked. A negative test result at one hospital during his employment allows MDCH to exclude two hospitals from further examination as there no risk posed by this individual to patients at these facilities.
Hepatitis C is a blood-borne viral infection, estimated to infect 1.6 percent of the U.S. population. Most infected individuals do not know they have the virus because Hepatitis C can damage the liver for many years with few noticeable symptoms. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that more than 2 million U.S. citizens born from 1945 through 1965 – the baby boomers – have been infected with the virus and is currently recommending testing for all of those born in that time frame. Hepatitis C can be detected with blood tests and can be treated with antiviral medications. The goal of testing is to leverage the appropriate use of effective treatments that are now available to prevent deaths from hepatitis.
MDCH will continue to work with hospitals in Michigan as well as the CDC. For questions and information about Hepatitis C, please visit the MDCH website atwww.michigan.gov/hivstd or the CDC website at www.cdc.gov/hepatitis.
All media inquiries should be directed to MDCH at 517-373-3740.
For more information view the MDCH press release.