For Immediate Release
November 1, 2012
Anne M. Edwards, Associate Attorney General
The New Hampshire Attorney General's Office announces that the Merrimack County Superior Court issued an order on November 1, 2012 that affirms the authority of the Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Public Health Services to require Exeter Hospital to provide access to its medical records database in furtherance of Public Health's investigation into the hepatitis C outbreak. The court recognized that state law "explicitly bestows the responsibility of conducting outbreak investigations while simultaneously protecting certain health information to the trained professionals of the DHHS." The court noted that Public Health provided a detailed explanation of how its professional investigators have and will continue to protect patient privacy while conducting the investigation and has "demonstrated that this is a professional, regulated and lawful investigation into a potentially serious health threat."
Anne M. Edwards, Associate Attorney General, stated: "The court ruled that the State's outstanding requests for information from Exeter Hospital regarding the hepatitis C outbreak are lawful and appropriate. The court rejected all of Exeter Hospital's arguments to the contrary."
Dr. Jose Montero, Director of the Division of Public Health Services, stated: "With the court's clear pronouncement of Public Health's authority, we trust that Exeter Hospital will fully cooperate with the investigation and provide access to its business and medical records and staff for interviews so that we can efficiently and effectively determine the scope of the outbreak, identify all patients who may have been exposed so that they may get access to care and determine the mechanism in all cases so that future incidents may be avoided."
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