German doctor sentenced over passing on hep C to patients

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A German anaesthetist has been handed a suspended sentence for grievous bodily harm after passing on hepatitis C to more than 50 surgery patients, reported dpa.

The Augsburg regional court in southern Germany sentenced the 61-year-old to two years' imprisonment on 51 counts on Friday, but he does not have to serve time.

The doctor had made a comprehensive confession.

Due to a painful chronic intestinal disease, which later turned out to have been caused by the hepatitis C virus, the anaesthetist had stolen opiates from his workplace at the Donau-Ries hospital in the Bavarian town of Donauwörth to treat himself with injections.

Presiding judge Christoph Kern spoke of "blatant violations of hygiene rules."

In the end, blood was transferred and more than 50 patients became infected. The court assumed that the doctor had first contracted hepatitis C from a patient without noticing the disease. In the months that followed, the man then unknowingly transmitted the liver infection to dozens more patients in 2017 and 2018.

After the "medical scandal of nationwide proportions" became known, as the judge put it, 1,700 people, who had all been treated by the anaesthetist in the hospital during the period under investigation, were asked to be tested for hepatitis C.

Hepatitis C is a liver disease caused by a virus that often goes undetected, but can also have serious long-term consequences. According to a German liver foundation, in 20% to 50% of cases the infection heals on its own within six months. In other cases, the liver inflammation becomes chronic.

After 20 to 30 years, cirrhosis and liver cancer can develop in some of those affected.

"Thanks to new medicines, however, hepatitis C can almost always be cured today," says the self-help association.

  •  Doctor
  •  convicted
  •  Germany


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