Police investigate nurse accused of infecting patients with hepatitis C at Washington hospital; up 2.6k patients urged to undergo testing

A nurse at Puyallup, Wash.-based MultiCare Good Samaritan Hospital may have infected two patients with hepatitis C, and the hospital is suggesting 2,600 patients who were treated during an eight-month period in 2017 and 2018 receive testing for the infection, according to The News Tribune.

The nurse, whose identity was not disclosed, no longer works for MultiCare. Patients who were treated in the hospital's emergency room between Aug. 4, 2017, and March 23, 2018, who received injections of drugs, antihistamine or sedatives are eligible for free hepatitis C testing as well as testing for communicable diseases.

Local and state officials investigated the incident and revealed the former MultiCare nurse "was removing higher-than-normal amounts of narcotics from our dispensing system and admitted to diverting medications intended for patients," according to a statement from MultiCare obtained by The News Tribune.

Although the hospital did not find evidence the nurse infected the patients, the nurse tested positive for hepatitis C and treated two patients at the hospital in December 2017 who were not at risk for the disease but tested positive for it after the nurse treated them, according to a MultiCare spokesperson.

Good Samaritan notified 2,600 patients about the possibility of being exposed to hepatitis C during treatment in the ER, which the hospital noted was less than 5 percent of the 54,000 patients treated in the ER during the eight-month period. If patients did not receive notification letters, they are not at risk for the infection.

"We deeply value the trust of our community, and apologize for the worry this will create. We have taken extensive measures to identify anyone who may have been at risk for exposure, out of interest for the health and safety of our patients and the community," Chris Bredeson, president and COO of Good Samaritan, said in a statement. "We remain committed to the highest standards of patient care and are working to make sure the affected patients are supported and have the information they need."

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