Poudre Valley Hospital urges hepatitis C tests

FORT COLLINS, Colo. (AP) — Poudre Valley Hospital is recommending hepatitis C testing for some patients after an employee at the hospital’s intensive care unit was suspected of stealing intravenous painkillers.

The hospital sent letters Saturday to 210 patients and some employees asking them to get shots if they were there from Sept. 2, 2011, and Aug. 28, 2012.

Officials would only identify the employee as a man, but they declined to say what position he held. No arrests have been made and the man was later fired.

So far, no cases of liver disease associated with the virus have been reported. The hospital is asking patients to seek testing as soon as possible.

“We want patients to be assured at this time there are no reported cases of patients acquiring hepatitis C and no evidence of harm to patients, but we want to make sure they are absolutely safe and encourage them to get tested,” said Ric Detlefsen, director of quality at Poudre Valley Hospital and Medical Center of the Rockies.

Officials said Fort Collins police have been working with investigators from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment since early November when they learned the employee may have been stealing leftover drugs from patients. The hospital also learned the employee had hepatitis C, but was no longer infected after Aug. 28, 2012, the Fort Collins Coloradoan reported Tuesday (http://tinyurl.com/o9k3hqh ).

In 2011, a federal appeals court in Denver upheld a 30-year prison sentence for a surgery technician infected with hepatitis C who injected herself with pain medication from syringes later used on surgical patients.

Attorneys for Kristen Parker said the sentence was unreasonable.

Parker pleaded guilty to several charges of tampering with a consumer product and illegally obtaining a controlled substance in exchange for a 20-year sentence, but a federal judge rejected the deal and gave her 30 years.

Authorities say Parker stole syringes filled with painkillers and replaced them with used syringes at two Colorado hospitals where she worked.

Up to three dozen patients were found to have hepatitis C after being exposed.

Parker was fired from Rose Medical Center in Denver and reported to state authorities, but she went on to work at Audubon Surgery Center in Colorado Springs.


Information from: Fort Collins Coloradoan, http://www.coloradoan.com

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