Hepatitis C Link in Colorado Cases Not Found for Weeks
July 7, 2009
On Monday in Denver, a former surgical technician faced federal charges in a drug-theft scheme that potentially exposed thousands of patients to hepatitis C over a six-month period. Last Thursday, state officials announced that up to 5,700 patients at two surgical facilities should seek free blood screenings for hepatitis C.
A deeper review of surgery logs led state investigators to zero in on the technician, who by then had been terminated from Rose after testing positive for drug use. The technician had begun the process of transitioning to the ambulatory center before being fired from Rose, according to an Audubon administrator.
Tests administered before the technician started work at Rose indicated she might have hepatitis C. She was told to follow up with her doctor but did not do so. She did not disclose the possible infection to Audubon, which does not require the test.
The technician confessed to swapping the syringes in late June, said Ned Calonge, the state's chief medical officer. State authorities immediately ordered the technician to stop working with patients and pharmaceuticals and issued the public warning.
The technician reportedly told federal investigators she believes she contracted hepatitis C while sharing needles to inject heroin, which she said she used from 2006 to September 2008.
07.07.2009; Jennifer Brown; Michael Booth; Allison Sherry