Trinity Health disputes claims by nursing home, says it's not responsible for disease outbreak


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MINOT, North Dakota — A Minot health care provider says claims by a nursing home that it's responsible for dozens of residents contracting hepatitis C last year are untrue.

A lawsuit was filed last week by the Ohio-based owner of ManorCare Health Services that alleges Trinity Health, which handles some services for ManorCare, is at fault for the disease outbreak discovered last year in Minot.

Forty-six people were infected with the virus that can cause serious liver damage and even death. All but one of them had spent time at the ManorCare Health Services nursing home.

Trinity said in a statement Tuesday that the complaint against it "contains untrue allegations," and that the company has "demonstrated safe and effective infection prevention."

"Unfortunately, at the initial stage of a lawsuit, a plaintiff such as ManorCare has license to make allegations without grounding such allegations in known facts, or even the known science about the transmission of Hepatitis C," the statements said.

ManorCare's lawsuit, which the owner of the nursing home filed in federal court last week, alleges that one Trinity Health employee is responsible for the spread of the disease that was first reported in August 2013, according to KXMC-TV in Minot. It says Trinity should have been aware of "serious longstanding problems" with the employee's phlebotomy, or blood service, practices.

On April 2, two nursing home residents filed a lawsuit against ManorCare, claiming it was at fault for the outbreak.

Hepatitis C, caused by a virus that results in an infection of the liver, is primarily transmitted by blood-to-blood contact. Some people who get it recover, but most carry the virus in their blood for the course of their lifetime and can develop chronic infection.

Trinity said it will also legally respond to ManorCare's allegations.

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