Hepatitis occurs in a number of forms and affects millions of people in the U.S. About 800,000 to 1.4 million people in the U.S. suffer from chronic hepatitis B, with over 18,000 new infections occurring each year. Also, about 2.7 to 3.9 million in this country suffer from chronic hepatitis C, with 16,000 new infections occurring each year. Hepatitis is a major health concern.
An expensive new drug now available to treat hepatitis C costs $1,000 per pill, and about $84,000 for a typical course of treatment. Private insurers are scrambling to develop criteria to determine which patients are eligible for the drug, and state Medicaid directors are engaged in tough bargaining for rebates on the drug’s cost. Of most concern, however, may be the cost of treating even a fraction of the large population of hepatitis C infected prison inmates, which could amount to billions of dollars.
Litigation involving medical malpractice and other causes of action for the diagnosis or treatment of hepatitis, the diagnosis or treatment of other conditions that result in a patient contracting hepatitis, or other harm related to hepatitis has resulted in awards and settlements of the millions of dollars.
Attorneys, physicians, hospitals, insurers, employers, and others potential parties to litigation should be aware of the types of lawsuits and other liability issues that may arise in connection with hepatitis-related injuries.