A nurse arrested on suspicion of spreading hepatitis C at a MultiCare Good Samaritan Hospital in Puyallup, Washington, denies having the virus or using drugs.
For those unfamiliar with the matter, the hospital issued a press release on April 30, warning that 2,600 patients who went through the ER during an eight-month period may have been exposed to hepatitis C.
The hospital said it was contacting patients at risk of exposure and offered free tests and treatment to those infected. Following the disclosure, a man who contracted hepatitis C after visiting the Puyallup Good Samaritan ER has filed suit against the hospital, and things are far from dying down.
The Puyallup Good Samaritan Hospital said that it thinks a nurse was taking parts of the pain medications intended for patients and injecting them to herself, then using the same needles on patients. The nurse in question was later identified as Cora Weberg.
Last week, authorities arrested Weberg at the border to Canada, as she was attempting to leave the country on a pre-planned trip. She was released shortly after being booked into Pierce County Jail, but the Washington State Department of Health has suspended her license.
According to state officials, two patients who received pain medication from Weberg later found out they had hepatitis C. Many other patients are still getting tested to see if they contracted the virus.
Weberg, on her part, has admitted to stealing discarded pain medication such as fentanyl and hydromorphone from the hospital. However, she denies using the drugs and sharing needles with patients. At the same time, she also denies having the virus, therefore refuting the allegations that she spread hepatitis C.
During a press conference at an attorney’s office, Weberg said she has been fully cooperating with authorities. Her attorneys, meanwhile, said she could not infect those two patients with hepatitis C, but health officials and the police were looking for a scapegoat.
After admitting to stealing discarded pain medication from the hospital, Weberg said that she took them because she planned to take her own life. Nevertheless, she highlighted that she never shared needles with patients, and she never had hepatitis C that could contaminate others.
“As of this very moment, I do not believe that I’m a contagious carrier of hepatitis C,” she stated.
Bryan Hersman, Weberg’s attorney, questioned the competency and honesty of the law enforcement and health department as Weberg never had hepatitis C. He claims that the nurse got one blood test when the investigation started and she passed, then got a second blood test that was inconclusive.
“Apparently there is a very low level of a pathogen in my blood that can constitute hepatitis C but not at the low levels found in my blood,” Weberg said.
Furthermore, Weber’s lawyers point out that she couldn’t have had hepatitis C and gone undetected so far because she donated blood regularly. The attorneys said they contacted the Red Cross and confirmed that Weber was a blood donor and her blood was clean.
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