W.Va. health agency named in lawsuit for delaying notifying pati - WVVA TV Bluefield Beckley WV News, Weather and Sports

W.Va. health agency named in lawsuit for delaying notifying patients of Hepatitis outbreak

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BECKLEY, W.Va. (WVVA) A new target was named Thursday in the case against a Raleigh County cardiology office that may have exposed 2,300 patients to HIV, Hepatitis B, and Hepatitis C. 

Two attorneys for 115 of the patients who are part of a class action lawsuit against the clinic announced their intention to name the West Virginia Dept. of Health and Human Resources (DHHR) as a new defendant. Attorneys Stephen New and Amanda Taylor claim their clients have strong evidence to show they contracted Hepatitis from the clinic.

"We absolutely intend on behalf of these 115 patients to hold the guilty parties responsible for what they've done," said New. 

New said the decision to include the West Virginia DHHR in the suit stems from the timeline surrounding the department's involvement. 

The DHHR was first tipped off about a possible hepatitis outbreak from inside the clinic in November of 2014. By February of 2015, New said the department had identified the clinic as the source of the outbreak, but instead opted to monitor the clinic's physician, Dr. Thair Barghouthi, for a period of 14 months instead of notifying patients. 

"Someone should not have had a 14 month delay to start treatment. They should not have waited."

It was not until March of 2016 that he said the DHHR notified 2,300 patients that they may have been exposed to HIV, Hepatitis B, and Hepatitis C.

According to New, his 115 clients also filed complaints against the physician with the West Virginia Board of Medicine (WVBOM), but to date very little action has been taken. 

"We're greatly troubled that the Board of Medicine would not consider the complaints that our clients filed and that we filed on their behalf. So just recently, we re-filled all 115 Board of Medicine complaints." 

Despite a DHHR investigation and a class action lawsuit, Dr. Barghouthi's medical practice remained open for business on Thursday. 

A spokesperson for the West Virginia DHHR said the department could not comment on the suit due to pending litigation. 


 

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