CDC HIV/AIDS/Viral Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News UpdateNEW HAMPSHIRE: In Response to Hepatitis C Outbreak, NH House Gives Preliminary OK to Technician Registry
By Holly Ramer
January 30, 2014
The Tribune reported that the New Hampshire House of Representatives preliminarily approved a bill that would require medical technicians to register with the state. The House proposed the bill in response to the recent incident of a traveling technician who stole drugs from Exeter Hospital and infected patients with hepatitis C. The technician had worked in seven states and had been fired several times because of drug allegations. In December, a New Hampshire court sentenced the man to 39 years in prison after dozens of people were diagnosed with the same hepatitis C strain he carries.
The bill requires the creation of a registry for healthcare workers who have access to both drugs and patients but are not otherwise required to be licensed or certified. Most states do not require medical technicians to be licensed and no nationwide database of wrongdoing or corrective actions against them currently exists. Disciplinary actions of any registered individual would need to be reported to the board. The board could carry out its own investigation if warranted.
"This is a simple, commonsense registration bill [that] will allow the state of New Hampshire to know who the technicians are who are working in their hospitals," said Rep. Lucy Weber (D-Cheshire). "It will further enhance patient safety by requiring hospitals to report incidents of discipline for these people who are often employed on a transient basis."
Critics argue the fee associated with the registry would deter technicians from entering the field and that another recently passed bill requiring facilities to have a drug-free workplace and employee drug testing takes the place of a required registry.