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Exeter Hospital must turn over medical database in hepatitis C investigation

CONCORD - A judge has ruled that Exeter Hospital has to turn over its medical records database as part of a state investigation into the hepatitis C outbreak associated with the hospital.

In a ruling dated Nov. 1, Merrimack County Superior Court Judge Richard McNamara noted that state health officials provided a detailed explanation about how investigators will protect privacy rights while conducting a professional investigation into a potentially serious public health threat.

The 13-page decison was distributed Thursday by the office of Attorney General Michael Delaney. In a statement, Associate Attorney General Anne Edwards noted that McNamara rejected all of Exeter Hospital's arguments.

Dr. Jose Montero, director of public health, said he expects Exeter Hospital to fully cooperate with the investigation. He said investigators want access to business and medical records and access to hospital staff for interviews.

The information will allow investigators to determine the scope of the outbreak, identifiy patients who may have been exposed and avoid future outbreaks, Montero said.

Last month, Exeter Hospital officials held a press conference to announce their objection to efforts by state officials to gain access to medical records as part of the investigation into the outbreak, which has infected 32 former hospital patients.

Former hospital medical technician David Kwiatkowski, 33, is accused of infecting unsuspecting patients by using syringes filled with the painkiller Fentanyl on himself and then returning the contaminated needles for use on patients.

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