Local law firm to represent Hepatitis B patients - WCIV-TV | ABC News 4 - Charleston News, Sports, Weather

Local law firm to represent Hepatitis B patients

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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- A local law firm is helping to file suit on behalf of patients who may have been accidentally infected with Hepatitis B at the Tri-County Spinal Care Center.

"A lot has fallen in on innocent people who don't deserve to receive a letter indicating they could potentially have a life-altering disease, let alone have the disease," attorney Matthew Pecoy said.

According to a release from the McGrath Law Firm, their attorneys are demanding independent testing and treatment for all of the patients who received injections at the clinic since September 2011.

"We have sent notifications or made calls to close to 600 patients of the clinic advising them of their potential exposure," said Jim Beasley with the SC Department of Health and Environmental Control. "As of July 2, we had identified 19 individuals with hepatitis B.  Eight of those had recent or acute hepatitis B infection, one had chronic hepatitis B, and 10 had resolved hepatitis B infections."

DHEC began its investigation into the clinic on May 20 after three people were diagnosed with hepatitis B. Since then at least 15 more have tested positive for Hep B.

DHEC recommended anyone who was injected since September 2011 at the facility on Dorchester Road in North Charleston be tested for hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and HIV.

"The process of further testing and treatment is very traumatic for the clinic's former patients," Pecoy said. "We are demanding independent testing and treatment for these victims because they obviously do not want to return to the same clinic where they were infected and be subjected to more needles there. Tri-County Spinal Care Center is the last place that the victims would want to go for further medical treatment."

According to DHEC officials, the people contacted in the initial investigation were asked to go to Northwoods Health Clinic on Northbrook Boulevard to have their blood tested for hepatitis B, C, and HIV.

Attorneys also point out that the testing process itself is enough to victimize their clients as they wait for results to come back.

"The testing is somewhat imperfect," said Attorney Evan Smith. "Even if a patient tests negative, that victim is not necessarily in the clear because there is an incubation period for these diseases. Each victim has to wait six months to be retested. In the interim, these victims have to live their lives as if they have one of these horrible diseases. This affects nearly every aspect of their lives, ranging from not being able to be intimate with their spouses or significant others to everyday menial things including not being able to share a razor or toothbrush for fear of exposing loved ones to these diseases."

Clinic physicians said they are cooperating with DHEC and have stopped all invasive procedures for the duration of the investigation.

ABCNews4 reached out to Tri-County Spinal Care Center for comment Wednesday. We did not hear back.

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