Colorado Hepatitis C Surgical Tech Being Investigated in New York, Texas

A <"">hepatitis C scare that originated in Colorado has now spread to two other states. According to the Associated Press, health officials in New York and Texas are now investigating an allegedly painkiller-addicted surgical technician who is accused of switching new syringes for used, dirty ones at two hospitals in Colorado.

As we’ve reported previously, Kristen Diane Parker, 26, faces federal criminal charges for her alleged conduct. The former surgical tech worked at Rose Medical Center in Denver from Oct. 21 to April 13 and at Colorado Springs’ Audubon Surgery Center from May 4 until June 29. She was allegedly swapping Fentanyl syringes with dirty, saline-filled syringes to feed her addiction. In Colorado, 6,000 patients have been alerted that they may have been exposed to hepatitis C because of her actions. What’s more, officials say that 10 cases of the illness may be linked to Parker.

Various media outlets have reported that Parker has admitted to the syringe swaps. An earlier Associated Press report said Parker tested positive for hepatitis C prior to working at Rose, but did not follow-up. A federal magistrate has ordered Parker jailed without bond, saying she switched the needles even though she knew she had hepatitis C, the Associated Press said.

Now the Associated Press is reporting that Parker worked at hospitals in New York and Texas, prompting officials in those states to launch their own investigation. In Texas, Parker worked at Christus St. John Hospital outside Houston between May 2005 and October 2006, the Associated Press said. An investigation began there Wednesday, but officials say that it its too early to determine if any patients are at risk.

According to the same Associated Press article, New York health officials are advising 2,800 patients who had surgery at Northern Westchester Hospital in Mount Kisco between Oct. 8, 2007, and Feb. 28, 2008 to get tested for hepatitis C. It isn’t known if Parker had hepatitis C while she was employed there, and so far no cases of the disease have been reported.

Hepatitis C is spread by contact with infected body fluids, especially blood. It 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. Symptoms include nausea, diarrhea, fatigue, pain, and jaundice.

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