Puyallup Nurse Pleads Guilty to Drug Tampering, Infecting Patients with Hepatitis C

A hepatitis C outbreak among Good Samaritan ED patients was linked to the nurse injecting herself with the drugs and then using the same needles on patients.

Puyallup Nurse Pleads Guilty to Drug Tampering, Infecting Patients with Hepatitis C

Image via Adobe, by May_Chanikran

Puyallup, Washington – A former emergency department nurse at Puyallup’s Good Samaritan Hospital has pleaded guilty to tampering with vials of hydromorphone and fentanyl that were intended for use on patients.

An investigation determined that an outbreak of hepatitis C virus (HCV) among a dozen of the hospital’s emergency department patients was most likely the result of the nurse, Cora Weberg, 36, intravenously taking some of the patients’ drugs for her own use, and then injecting those patients with the same needle she used on herself, reports CBS News.

According to an investigation by the CDC:

“Several epidemiologic findings in this investigation strongly indicate that nurse A [Weberg] was the likely source of infection for the 12 patients with acute HCV infection. First, she had accessed the automated drug dispensing system at a higher frequency than had other staff members and admitted to diverting patient injectable narcotic drugs for personal use. Second, she had seroconverted to anti-HCV–positive after a previous negative test and then tested positive for HCV RNA, indicating recent infection. Finally, having administered injectable narcotic, sedative, or antihistamine drugs to each patient, nurse A was the only common epidemiologic link to 13 patients with genetically similar HCV. The patients with HCV infection who were not cared for by nurse A were infected by strains that were genetically distant from each other and from the HCV 1a strains infecting the group of 13 patients.”

Weberg was on duty from August 4, 2017 to March 23, 2018, but she was only charged on September 1 of this year. She could serve up to ten years in prison and pay a maximum fine of $250,000, reports KIRO7. She also lost or surrendered her nursing license in four states, reports the Daily Beast.

The diversion of drugs is a serious problem for healthcare facilities. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), drug diversion may affect 10% of healthcare workers and costs the healthcare industry up to $72.5 billion annually.

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About the Author

Robin Hattersley Gray

Robin has been covering the security and campus law enforcement industries since 1998 and is a specialist in school, university and hospital security, public safety and emergency management, as well as emerging technologies and systems integration. She joined CS in 2005 and has authored award-winning editorial on campus law enforcement and security funding, officer recruitment and retention, access control, IP video, network integration, event management, crime trends, the Clery Act, Title IX compliance, sexual assault, dating abuse, emergency communications, incident management software and more. Robin has been featured on national and local media outlets and was formerly associate editor for the trade publication Security Sales & Integration. She obtained her undergraduate degree in history from California State University, Long Beach.

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