Widow sues Mayo Clinic for Hepatitis C-related death

A widow who says her husband died after contracting Hepatitis C at Mayo Clinic is suing the hospital, reports First Coast News. This is the first litigation related to the spread of Hepatitis C via a former Mayo employee.

Dennis Wolford died in September 2008, after receiving two liver transplants at Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Fla.--July 2006 and February 2008.

Wolford tested negative for Hepatitis C prior to his first transplant, according to a statement from the attorneys representing Peggy Wolford. However, after the transplant, blood tests showed he was infected.

The attorneys also noted that Wolford was supposed to receive the pain killer Fentanyl to help with his transplants--the same drug taken by the infected Mayo radiology technologist who then used contaminated syringes.

"They did tell us it wasn't from the organ and it wasn't from blood work," the patient's wife told the Florida Union-Times. "We knew he got it from Mayo Clinic but we didn't know how," she said.

According to her lawyers, it's clear that the cause of Wolford's infection was the former Mayo radiology tech. "We cannot understand how a radiology technologist could have been allowed access to such powerful narcotic pain medications or how he could have been permitted to directly inject patients with these medications," they added.

The hospital offered no explanation for how Wolford might have contracted the virus nor would it disclose information about what strain of hepatitis the radiology tech's got.

Since her husband's infection and subsequent passing, Peggy Wolford had to sell her home and declare bankruptcy, notes the Union-Times.

"We extend our deepest sympathy to the family for the difficulties following the loss of their loved one," Mayo Clinic said in a statement. "Mayo Clinic does not comment on pending litigation," it added.

For more:
- read the law firm's press release
- read the First Coast News article
- check out the Florida Union-Times article