Police arrest Washington hospital nurse accused of infecting patients with hep C

Police arrested a 31-year-old former MultiCare Good Samaritan Hospital nurse last week who may have infected at least two patients at the Puyallup, Wash., hospital with hepatitis C, according to The News Tribune.

Police booked Cora Weberg, RN, into Pierce County Jail early May 4. Authorities reportedly recommended prosecutors charge her with second-degree assault for allegedly knowingly infecting at least two patients and stealing injectable drugs from the hospital, according to the report. Ms. Weberg was released from jail May 5, according to Kiro 7 News.

Ms. Weberg has not been charged with a crime. However, a preliminary finding of probable cause filed by police and obtained by The News Tribune stated Ms. Weberg "intentionally contaminated medicine or another substance with her own blood; she then administered the medicine or other substance intravenously; Cora Weberg knew or reasonably should have known that her blood was likely to contain one or more blood-borne pathogens; and Cora Weberg's blood did, in fact, contain and transmit hepatitis C virus."

MultiCare Good Samaritan Hospital officials announced the possible infection of two patients last week, and issued a recommendation to 2,600 patients who were treated in the hospital's emergency room during an eight-month period between August 2017 and March 23 to receive testing for the infection.

Hospital leaders told The News Tribune May 1 patient testing is ongoing, stating officials have tested hundreds of patients for hepatitis C, but have not released the results of those tests.

The Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department began an investigation into the incident in March, and connected the two infected patients to each other and then to Ms. Weberg, who treated the patients. Using CDC data, health department officials established that the tests revealed a conclusive link between the two patients and the genetic source of the virus, according to the report. However, the viral material from Ms. Weberg's tests was insufficient to show a genetic link to the patients, though she reportedly tested positive for the disease.

The News Tribune reports Ms. Weberg, who no longer works at the hospital, questions whether she actually contracted hepatitis C, citing test results that show she may have been exposed to the virus, but not at a level allowing her to infect others. Her defense attorney, who spoke with the publication, said Ms. Weberg denies infecting patients and that she did not use needles on patients that she had used on herself.

"On the one hand, my heart goes out to these infected people. On the other hand, this investigation has been going on for months. If there was a genetic link between these patients and Cora, you would certainly think it would be definitively announced or released by the Department of Health and that hasn’t happened yet," Ms. Weberg's attorney said.

To access the The News Tribune report, click here.

More articles on quality and infection control:
The power of light: How hospitals can harness UV energy to reduce HAIs
Police investigate nurse accused of infecting patients with hepatitis C at Washington hospital; up 2.6k patients urged to undergo testing
Top 10 infection control, patient safety stories in April

© Copyright ASC COMMUNICATIONS 2018. Interested in LINKING to or REPRINTING this content? View our policies by clicking here.

 


IC Database-3

Top 40 Articles from the Past 6 Months