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Colorado hospital shares hepatitis outbreak response information

A former employee of a hospital in a northeastern state has been accused of diverting drugs so that he could steal medication and then replacing the medication with tainted syringes. In addition to any problems caused by medication errors resulting from the drug diversion, 32 people have also been diagnosed with the same strain of hepatitis C that the hospital worker carries.

This case has similarities to a Colorado case where a former surgical technician was also accused of drug diversion and of infecting up to three dozen people with hepatitis C. The surgical technician is now serving a 30-year sentence in prison. Following the New Hampshire outbreak, officials from the Colorado hospital and the Mayo Clinic were invited by the northeastern hospital to share the methods they used to deal with their drug diversion problem.

The Mayo Clinic developed a list of techniques that it could use to make it more difficult for drug diversion to occur, but even when those techniques are employed, there is no way to guarantee that drug diversion will be eliminated. However, the clinic was hopeful it would be harder for employees to divert drugs, and that if they were stealing drugs, it would be easier for officials to catch the thieves.

There are numerous cases where drug diversion has resulted in the spread of hepatitis C. Drug diversion can also result in complications like medication errors, dosage mistakes and administration of the wrong drugs. If an individual suspects they have been a victim of a mistake caused by drug diversion, they should contact an attorney to discuss their rights.

Source: Boston.com, "NH hospitals learn from hepatitis C outbreak," Holly Ramer, Oct. 25, 2012

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