A Colorado surgery technician accused of stealing syringes filled with pain medication and switching them with used syringes despite knowing she had hepatitis C, has been denied bail.
Kristen Diane Parker, 26, who is infected with hepatitis C, put almost 6,000 patients at risk during surgeries at the Rose Medical Center near Denver. So far, 10 patients have tested positive for the virus.
Officials allege she stole syringes filled with Fentanyl – a powerful narcotic painkiller nearly 100 times more potent than morphine -- and swapped them with dirty ones that contained saline solution.
According to the CDC, hepatitis C is a liver disease caused by the hepatitis C virus (HCV). HCV infection can result in acute illness and most often becomes a chronic condition that can lead to cirrhosis of the liver and liver cancer. The disease is transmitted through contact with the blood of an infected person, primarily through sharing contaminated needles.
In the videotaped interview, played in court last week, Parker told a Denver detective that hospital officials advised her to follow up with her doctor but they never made it clear she tested positive for hepatitis C.
She told the detective she never followed up because she had no health insurance or money to see a doctor and no symptoms of illness.
“I didn’t know that this was going to happen to the extent of people getting sick, that’s something I can’t give back,” a tearful Parker told the detective.
"Short of shooting a flare in the sky, I don't know what more they could do to inform her of her results," said U.S. Magistrate Judge Craig B. Shaffer of the hospital notifying Parker of her results.
Judge Shaffer disagreed and declared her a danger to the community for failure to follow up, along with knowingly swapping dirty needles she knew would be used on patients.
Parker faces charges of tampering with a consumer product, creating a counterfeit controlled substance and obtaining a controlled substance by deception or subterfuge.
If convicted of all charges, she faces a maximum of 34 years in prison. However, if prosecutors can prove she caused serious bodily injury or death to a patient, she could get life behind bars.
Parker was employed at Rose Medical Center from October 2008 to April 21 when she was fired after failing a drug test. Her last employment was at the Audubon Ambulatory Surgery Center in Colorado Springs, Colo. According to officials there, she was hired prior to her dismissal from Rose Medical Center.
In the interview with officials, Parker admitted she has had previous problems with painkillers and may have contracted the disease while using heroin last summer.
According to the Associated Press, Nationwide, there were four documented cases of nurses and doctors infecting patients with hepatitis C between 1992 and 2003, according to the latest information from Centers for Disease Control. #