A surgery technician at the center of a hepatitis C scare in Colorado involving the alleged swapping of patients’ clean needles for her dirty ones is being investigated in Texas because she previously worked in a Houston-area hospital.
Kristen Diane Parker, who worked at Christus St. John Hospital in Nassau Bay from May 2005 to October 2006, was indicted in Denver last week on 42 criminal counts. Prosecutors allege 19 people contracted the disease after she swapped the needles.
The Texas and Harris County health departments launched an investigation earlier this month that is still in the early stages, according to officials of both agencies. They said the investigation began after they learned Parker worked in Houston.
Carrie Williams, a spokeswoman for the Texas health department, said the focus is on whether Parker had hepatitis C while at Christus St. John. Only then would patients be notified, she said.
Thousands of former patients in Colorado and New York, where Parker also worked, have been advised to get tested because of the possibility they were exposed.
According to published reports, all 19 cases identified so far occurred at Denver’s Rose Medical Center, where Parker worked from last October to April. She worked in New York from October 2007 through February 2008.
Parker, 26, told Denver police she stole fentanyl, a narcotic painkiller, from surgery rooms and injected herself with the drug, then filled the same syringe with saline and put it back on the surgical tray, according to the Denver Post.
Her attorney has said Parker didn’t know she had hepatitis C at the time, though she tested positive in a pre-employment blood test at Rose Medical Center.
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