Nurse Who Stole Narcotics May Have Exposed Patients To Hepatitis C

By Victoria Kim 05/04/18

Officials suspect that the nurse used the same needles to administer the drugs to herself and patients.

Nurse in the hospital.

A hospital in Puyallup, Washington, is urging some former patients to get tested for hepatitis C.

According to Q13 Fox, a nurse who has admitted to stealing narcotic medication from the hospital has also tested positive for hepatitis C (HCV).

So far, two patients from December have also tested positive for HCV. Other patients who are at risk were treated in the emergency department at MultiCare Good Samaritan Hospital in an eight-month time period—between August 4, 2017 and March 23, 2018, officials say.

“Good Samaritan and local and state health department officials have conducted a thorough investigation and determined that one of our nurses was removing higher-than-normal amounts of narcotics from our dispensing system and admitted to diverting medications intended for patients,” said the hospital in a statement.

“She tested positive for Hepatitis C and had treated both of the patients we know are infected. Hepatitis C is most commonly transmitted by exposure to an infected person’s blood through shared needles.”

The nurse, who began working at MultiCare in the summer of 2017, has since resigned over the allegations.

Officials suspect that the nurse used the same needles to administer the drugs to herself and patients. “That’s the issue. There’s been no other explanation that’s come forward,” said Chief Medical Officer Dr. David Bachman.

MultiCare sent letters to the at-risk patients, promising to cover the cost of testing and treatment.

They have notified about 2,600 patients who were deemed to be at risk—which represents about 5% of the 54,000 patients who came through MultiCare’s emergency department in the stated time period. It’s especially important to get tested for HCV, since the virus can remain “silent” for years before symptoms begin to show.

The hospital says that patients who do not receive a letter should not worry, as this was an isolated incident.

In the meantime, hospital officials say the incident shows just how pervasive opioid addiction can be.

“This nurse’s actions violated our organization’s values. Because of this, we violated the trust we have with our community,” said president and COO of MultiCare, Chris Bredeson. “We’ve certainly learned that healthcare workers are not immune from the opioid crisis.”

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