Exeter Hospital in New Hampshire faces a number of lawsuits due to a hepatitis C outbreak. The amount of infected patients has risen to 27 cases since the original report of 19.

Hepatitis C, which causes inflammation in the liver can lead to a host of other health issues including but not limited to abdominal pain, abdominal swelling, fever, nausea and loss of appetite.

In a statement issued in June by Dr. Jose Montero, New Hampshire’s public health director revealed that the investigations indicate an employee of the Cardiac Catheterization Lab may have unlawfully misused and injected himself with hospital drugs and then continued to use the same needle on other patients.

Exeter officials are calling all patients who may have visited the Cardiac Catheterization Lab between October 1, 2010 and May 25, 2012 to get tested for the virus.

Just two years ago, Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, FL underwent a three-and-a-half year’s investigation where 3,500 patients were tested for the virus after it was discovered that a hospital employee was unlawfully injecting himself with drugs. However, compared to Exeter hospital, only five people were infected.

According to Foster Daily Democrat, since the beginning of the month 59 patients have filed a law suit against the hospital, although not all who have filed have been diagnosed with hepatitis C. Of those, 47 have signed on to a class-action lawsuit and 12 are moving forward with individual lawsuits.

Many of the plaintiffs have tested positive for hepatitis C and hold Exeter Hospital responsible for infecting them with the virus, a few are currently awaiting their test results and others have been tested negative but continues to move forward with a lawsuit.

Both the New Hampshire attorney general and U.S. Attorney’s Office have stated they are launching an investigation regarding the hepatitis C occurrence to make out whether any criminal acts has transpired.

If any results suggest there were infection’s prior to June 2011, then Exeter will have to broaden its testing window beyond October 2010.