Our firm is now reviewing cases for those who may have been exposed to Hepatitis C while being treated at Davis Hospital and Medical Center.
The current investigation into how a patient at McKay-Dee Hospital became infected with the Hepatitis C virus has now widened its gaze to a second hospital. Layton, Utah's Davis Hospital and Medical Center, just a few miles south of Ogden, Utah-based McKay-Dee Hospital, is sending notices to 2369 patients to inform them that they may have been exposed to Hepatitis C. This would bring the total number of potentially exposed patients in the Salt Lake City metro area to around 7200.
The investigation is centered on a nurse who was terminated from McKay-Dee last year after she admitted to stealing morphine and Dilaudid for non-prescribed, personal use. Health investigators expanded the case after finding that the nurse had also once been employed at Davis and that she had been caught stealing Benadryl in tab- and intravenous-form. Diphenhydramine, the active ingredient in Benadryl, is often used to make a form of heroin, known recreationally as "cheese." The nurse is identified as a 49-year-old woman from Layton, Utah.
Documents from the Utah Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing show that the nurse admitted to taking Benadryl from her employer over a period of eight months between 2012 and 2013. According to the report, the nurse would occasionally enter the name of a patient into the medication dispensing machine, cancel the transaction, then keep the medication for herself. She was reprimanded and fined $100.
When the Utah Department of Health began investigating how one man was infected, they found out that the nurse at McKay-Dee Hospital had the same strain of hepatitis C, a fairly rare strain. When asked, a spokesperson for McKay-Dee said that the hospital was unaware of any nurse having been previously disciplined for taking medication.
Several high-profile cases of hepatitis C exposure at hospitals have raised awareness about "drug diversion," the industry's name for when employees steal medication. You may recall the case of David Kwiatkowski, who did the same thing a few years ago with the painkiller Fentanyl at various hospitals throughout the country before finally being caught. He was sentenced to thirty-nine years in jail in 2013 after forty-five people were found to be infected with Hepatitis C from using syringes that Kwiatkowski had refilled with saline.
In the last decade, nearly ninety nurses, pharmacists, and medical technicians have been disciplined by the Utah Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing for stealing medications.
As of 12 November, more than 1100 patients were tested and experts say that generally only about 60% of patients respond to being tested after similar occurrences. It is important that anyone who received a notice gets tested because Hepatitis C can remain asymptomatic for as long as twenty-five years.
If you have questions about possibly being infected with the Hepatitis C virus after being a patient at one of these hospitals, call Dallas W. Hartman, P.C. today for a free consultation at 800-777-4081.