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

Published: September 8, 2023

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.”

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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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