Hep C Scandal Has Colorado Rethinking License For Surgical Techs

The <"http://www.yourlawyer.com/topics/overview/hepatitis">hepatitis C scandal that recently broke in Colorado has taken a new turn. Now, officials there are looking at a proposal to license and maintain oversight on surgical technicians, the Denver Post reports.

The proposal had been rejected but is receiving new light in the wake of the scandal that has expanded to two other states and has a victim toll that recently rose to 11. The Denver Post previously reported that 11 patients from the Rose Medical Center contracted the dangerous and sometimes deadly blood borne liver disease; New York and Texas are also investigating the outbreak. Officials say that the 11 cases may be linked to Parker, who has tested positive for hepatitis C.

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.

Kristen Diane Parker, 26, faces federal criminal charges for her alleged conduct. The former surgical tech worked at Rose from Oct. 21 to April 13 and at Colorado Springs’ Audubon Surgery Center from May 4 until June 29. She was allegedly swapping sterile Fentanyl syringes with dirty saline-filled syringes to feed her addiction. Parker 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.

The AP also previously reported that Parker tested positive for hepatitis C before she began working at Rose, but never followed-up on the diagnoses. A federal magistrate has since ordered Parker jailed without bond, saying she switched the needles even though she knew she had hepatitis C, the AP said. It is unknown if Parker was positive for hepatitis C when she worked in New York.

News broke late last week that Parker was fired from the New York location in 2008, said the Denver Post; the reason remains undisclosed. That information is making the possibility for a central database of such problems more appealing and health officials are wondering if the rejected proposal could have helped spot Parker’s moving from Audubon after being fired by Rose, the Denver Post reported. “What regulation could have done in this instance was prevent the employment of the person at the second facility,” said Ned Calonge, chief medical officer for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, quoted the Denver Post.

In 2004, a group of surgery assistants requested licensure and regulation; however, a review found no need for such oversight stating: “Not regulating surgical assistants had not ‘resulted in significant harm to Colorado consumers’; surgical responsibilities vary widely, and many different kinds of employees perform similar surgical functions; and licensing creates monopolies and fails to recognize overlapping skills and abilities,” said the Denver Post.

The proposal would enable the licenses and rights of medical professionals suspended by the state if and when serious allegations, with evidence, are presented and would allowing viewing by potential employers.

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