Scrub tech may have exposed thousands to hepatitis

Jul 03, 2009

(AP) -- A former surgery technician may have exposed thousands of Colorado patients to hepatitis C when she swapped her own dirty syringes for ones filled with a powerful narcotic, federal authorities said Thursday.

Kristen Diane Parker faces criminal charges for allegedly making the swaps while working at Audubon Ambulatory Surgery Center in Colorado Springs and Rose Medical Center in Denver.

Authorities say Parker admitted to changing out syringes containing a saline solution with ones filled with the painkiller Fentanyl. Parker injected herself with the drug, according to a complaint filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Denver.

An affidavit by Mary F. LaFrance, an investigator for the U.S. , says at least nine surgery patients at Rose have tested positive for , which is incurable. About 6,000 patients are being advised they may have been exposed and need to be tested.

Hepatitis C is a blood-borne disease that can cause serious liver problems, including or liver cancer. The illness is treatable, but there is no cure. Symptoms can include nausea, diarrhea, fatigue, pain and jaundice.

Rose Medical Center officials told a news conference Thursday night they were working with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to determine whether Parker was the source of the virus.

It could not be determined Thursday night whether Parker had an attorney.

Parker worked at Rose from Oct. 21, 2008, until April. Hospital officials say she was suspended April 13, before they learned of the cases, and then fired. She had failed a drug test by testing positive for Fentanyl.

Parker went to work for the Audubon surgery center shortly after being fired. She worked there from May 4 until Monday, Dr. J. Michael Hall, Audubon's medical director, told The Gazette in Colorado Springs.

If convicted of tampering with a consumer product and other charges, she faces up to 10 years in prison and a maximum $250,000 fine on the most serious charge of tampering.

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©2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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visual
not rated yet Jul 03, 2009
Terrible thing to happen... I doubt any kind of sentence can even things out for the ones affected.

The article is very badly worded though. It is not made clear how often she has done the swap, but I guess there is just no way this affected literally thousands of people. Perhaps it is much less than that, but it is not known which ones among the thousands that went through the hospital in that period, so they all need to be checked... is this the case?
weewilly
not rated yet Jul 04, 2009
You would be astonished at what goes on behind closed doors in our hospitals. People working on patients that are neither licensed or certified as techs with only on the job experience. Surgeons and others not scrubbing up before touching patients or doing procedures. Non-medical personel making deicisions that affect patient care. Puppets being put into directorships and managerial positions that just carry out the C ranks policies and have little or no regard for being a patient advocate. A big business, a Very Big Business and the sharks have moved on into the industry and run it now. Wonder how the prices for medical care got so high?