Earlier this month we wrote about former surgery technician Kristen Diane Parker, 26, who was jailed and criminally charged over a potentially massive hepatitis contamination in Colorado. The Denver Post previously wrote that Parker was accused of exposing thousands of patients to <"http://www.yourlawyer.com/topics/overview/hepatitis">hepatitis C, â€œtampering with a consumer product, counterfeiting a controlled substance, and containing a controlled substance by deceit or subterfuge.â€
Now, says the Associated Press, 6,000 patients have been alerted that they may have been exposed to the dangerous, sometimes deadly, hepatitis C because Parker, a technician addicted to painkillers, was swapping Fentanyl syringes with dirty, saline-filled syringes. Parker, who is infected with hepatitis C, said she thinks she contracted the blood borne pathogen as a result of heroin use and sharing dirty needles in 2008, when she lived in New Jersey, said CNN previously.
Hepatitis C is spread by contact with infected body fluids, especially blood, and is a liver disease that can lead to cirrhosis or cancer of the liver. There is no vaccine for hepatitis C and the disease can be fatal. The AP pointed out that while incurable, hepatitis C is treatable; symptoms include â€œnausea, diarrhea, fatigue, pain, and jaundice.â€
CNN previously reported that Parker admitted to conducting the secret injections in a bathroom while working at Rose Medical Center, in Denver.
Parker worked at the Rose until she was fired when she tested positive for Fentanyl, said the Denver Post, and is also accused of injecting herself with painkillers designated for patients. Parker would inject herself with Fentanyl, refilling the tainted syringes with saline, the Denver Post added. After being fired from Rose, Parker worked at the Audubon Ambulatory Surgery Center in Colorado Springs, said the Denver Post.
To date, the AP reports that 10 hepatitis C cases have been linked to Rose, one additional case since its last report. Health officials are testing to determine if the cases are absolutely linked to Parker, said the AP.
In a June 30 videotaped police interview, Parker admitted that she held on to the dirty saline-filled syringes while waiting for opportunities when doctors and nurses were not in the room with her and she could replace the stolen Fentanyl-filled syringes with the tainted saline syringes, explained the AP. “I didn’t want to make it obvious to everyone that I was using,” Parker said, quoted the AP. Parker admitted to stealing between 15 and 20 Fentanyl syringes, saying, “I knew my limit,” said the AP. Parker was allegedly found in an operating room where she was not permitted access, said CNN previously. She later tested positive for Fentanyl.
Parker admitted to using between 100-to-250 micrograms of Fentanyl per dose, which is, said the AP, citing a medical malpractice attorney/former cardiac anesthesiologist, a dose more appropriate to a 500-pound individual. Fentanyl is 80-to-100 times stronger than morphine, the AP said.
Parker said she took the narcotic because of child custody issues with her ex-husband, six hour shifts where she was required to stand, and back pain due to job requirements, said the AP. Parker tested positive for hepatitis C prior to working at Rose, but did not follow-up, because she allegedly did not have insurance or the finances needed, was consumed with her new job, and claimed the hospital did not clarify that she tested positive for the disease, said the AP. The federal magistrate judge did not agree and declared Parker a danger the community, ordering Parker held without bond.
Parker could face up to 20 years in prison if she is found to have seriously harmed a patient, and life in prison if a patient dies as a result of her actions, said CNN previously.