Second Colorado Facility Linked to Hepatitis C OutbreakJul 27, 2009 | Parker Waichman LLP
Late last week, we reported that 19 patients from Rose Medial Center tested positive for hepatitis C, contracted as a result of contact with surgical technician Kristen Diane Parker. The Colorado Department of Health and Environment is now reporting that initial results indicate confirmed cases of the dangerous and, sometimes deadly, virus have been received out of the Audubon Surgery Center.
Parker worked at Rose from Oct. 21 to April 13 and at Colorado Springs’ Audubon Surgery Center from May 4 until June 29. Parker also worked at Christus St. John Hospital outside Houston, Texas between May 2005 and Oct. 2006, the Associated Press (AP) previously reported and at Northern Westchester Hospital in New York’s Mount Kisco between Oct. 8, 2007, and Feb. 28, 2008. Investigations continue in all three states and patients continue to be tested.
Parker, 26, allegedly swapped sterile Fentanyl syringes with dirty—potentially hepatitis C-contaminated—saline-filled syringes, endangering countless patients. Hepatitis C is spread by contact with infected body fluids, especially blood. The disease attacks the liver, and can lead to cirrhosis or cancer of the liver. There is no vaccine for hepatitis C and the disease can be fatal. The disease is incurable, but can be treated.
"It was disappointing to see the first case linked to Audubon Surgery Center," said Mark Salley Department of Health and Environment spokesman, quoted NewsChannel13/KRDO. Of those whose hepatitis C is linked to Parker, 14 are from Rose and one, from Audubon, said KRDO; 13 are scheduled for sequencing, additional genetic testing, which will provide more confirmation that the virus genotype is the same as Parker’s. "According to the CDC (Consumer Product Safety Commission) it's 99.4 percent certain to be linked to the former employee," Salley said, reported KRDO. The state expects more positive hepatitis C results to come in as a result of the testing, said KRDO.
"There was no knowing if the employee would continue her activity here," Salley said, "but with this case, it appears she may have," he added, reported KRDO. The link to Colorado’s page on testing and results can be accessed at: http://www.cdphe.state.co.us/dc/Hepatitis/hepc/InvestigationCaseTable.html
According to Jeffrey Dorschner, spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office in Colorado, “Nineteen people tested positive for hepatitis C who had surgery at Rose Medical Center, have the same genotype as Parker, and did not have hepatitis C prior to surgery,” the Denver Post quoted last week. This development, said the Denver Post, represented the first direct link between the contamination and Parker. The paper also reported that additional charges could be made in future indictments and that, if convicted, Parker could face life in prison.
Parker was indicted last week on 42 counts by a federal grand jury, 21 counts of product tampering and 21 counts of obtaining a controlled substance by deceit, reported the Denver Post. These charges, said the Denver Post, only relate to Parker’s alleged activities at Rose. Parker was also charged with three criminal counts earlier in the month that were connected to stealing Fentanyl, the Denver Post noted. The Denver Post reported that additional charges could be made in future indictments and that, if convicted, Parker could face life in prison.
Although Parker alleges she did not know she was infected with hepatitis C at the time the crimes were committed, the AP previously reported that Parker tested positive with the virus before she began working at Rose, but that Parker never followed-up on the diagnosis. The Denver Post noted that Parker was told at a pre-employment exam at Rose that she was likely infected with hepatitis C and Parker, herself, told police she shared needles when she used heroin.