Emmanuel Thomas l Wednesday, April 19, 2023
BERLIN – A German anaesthetist accused of infecting more than 50 patients with hepatitis C wants to take the stand in his own defence, his lawyer said on Wednesday before the trial start.
The physician is alleged to have infected at least 51 patients with the liver disease during operations in 2017 and 2018 due to poor hygiene.
The criminal court plans to hear numerous witnesses in 12 days of hearings. A verdict could be reached by mid-July. The case was made public almost five years ago and required extensive investigations. The health department asked more than 1,700 men and women who were treated at the Donau-Ries clinic in the southern state of Bavaria to be tested for the disease.
The doctor was said to have diverted opiates that were slated for operations to himself over many years, due to an intestinal disease. In doing so, the man allegedly violated hygiene rules and thus transmitted his own hepatitis C infection to patients.
Hepatitis C is a disease that often goes undetected, but can also have serious late effects. According to the German Liver Aid association, in 20% to 50% of cases, the infection heals on its own within six months.
In other cases, the liver inflammation becomes chronic and remains in the body. 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,” the association said.