A nurse with hepatitis C, working at a hospital in Washington, may have exposed thousands of patients to the virus.
The nurse in question worked at Washington's MultiCare Good Samaritan Hospital in Puyallup, and the hospital is now trying to warn 2,600 patients who had contact with the nurse.
Washington Nurse Potentially Exposed Thousands To Hepatitis C
The hospital is now taking measures to contact the potentially exposed patients and offer free tests for hepatitis C, as well as other contagious diseases. The patients who may be at risk received injections from the nurse in the emergency room between Aug. 4, 2017, and March 23, 2018. The responsible nurse is no longer working at the hospital.
Two patients who were treated by the nurse back in December 2017 have tested positive for the virus, although they were not at risk for it prior to their hospital visit.
"Good Samaritan and local and state health department officials have conducted a thorough investigation and determined that one of our nurses was removing higher-than-normal amounts of narcotics from our dispensing system and admitted to diverting medications intended for patients," says MultiCare. "She tested positive for Hepatitis C and had treated both of the patients we know are infected."
What Is Hepatitis C And How Does It Spread?
Liver inflammation potentially caused by a virus or other factors is called hepatitis, and there are three types of viruses, namely A, B, and C, which cause the disease. Heavy drinking and other factors can also cause the disease.
It's contagious, and hepatitis C can spread mainly through contact with an infected person's blood such as sharing a needle with an infected person. In fact, most hepatitis C patients got the virus by sharing needles.
In less common cases, people can also get the virus after using certain types of items that may have come in contact with the blood of an infected person. Such items may include toothbrushes, razors, dentistry equipment, improperly sterilized medical tools, and the like.
Hepatitis C Infection And Symptoms
The infection can either last for a few weeks or months in the acute phase or reach a chronic phase. Most hepatitis C patients — up to 85 percent — develop the chronic form of the disease. In time, chronic hepatitis C can lead to a number of health issues, potentially causing liver cancer.
Hepatitis C may have some telltale signs and symptoms such as jaundice, nausea, and fatigue, but many people don't display any symptoms and are unaware of the infection.
While there are vaccines to prevent infection with the hepatitis B and C viruses, there are none for hepatitis C.
People who received injections during the aforementioned eight-month period at the MultiCare Good Samaritan Hospital are highly advised to get tested for hepatitis C. Those who did not receive any word from the hospital are not at risk of infection. Those infected, meanwhile, will receive free treatment.