MultiCare Good Samaritan Hospital notifying patients of potential Hepatitis C exposure
MultiCare Good Samaritan Hospital in Puyallup is notifying certain patients who were treated in the Emergency Department during a nearly eight-month period in 2017 and 2018 that they should be tested for Hepatitis C. The alert follows the confirmation that two patients who were treated in December likely contracted the disease while in the Emergency Department.
Good Samaritan and local and state health department officials have conducted a thorough investigation and determined that one of our nurses was removing higher-than-normal amounts of narcotics from our dispensing system and admitted to diverting medications intended for patients. She tested positive for Hepatitis C and had treated both of the patients we know are infected. The nurse no longer works for MultiCare.
Good Samaritan Hospital is notifying about 2,600 patients treated in the Emergency Department between August 4, 2017, and March 23, 2018, who received injections of narcotic, antihistamine or sedatives of the possibility of exposure and recommending free Hepatitis C and other communicable disease testing in accordance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations. This group represents less than 5 percent of the 54,000 patients who were treated in the Emergency Department during this period.
Good Samaritan patients who do not receive notification letters this week are not at risk. This is an isolated situation and Good Samaritan Hospital is taking appropriate and responsible actions on behalf of patients.
“We deeply value the trust of our community, and apologize for the worry this will create. We have taken extensive measures to identify anyone who may have been at risk for exposure, out of interest for the health and safety of our patients and the community,” said Chris Bredeson, President and Chief Operating Officer of Good Samaritan. “We remain committed to the highest standards of patient care and are working to make sure the affected patients are supported and have the information they need.”
As part of the investigation, Good Samaritan thoroughly examined its processes to identify areas for improvement to prevent this from happening again. One area identified is around reporting of narcotic use. A new report was added to our existing detailed reporting about medication use in the hospital. This new report will help identify employees who deviate from standard practices for medication use. This new report is now part of our ongoing narcotic monitoring program and will be closely reviewed on an ongoing basis.
MultiCare will provide free treatment to any patient who was infected while in the Emergency Department. Hepatitis C is an infection of the liver that is usually spread when blood from a person infected with the Hepatitis C virus enters the body of someone who is not infected. Hepatitis C is most commonly transmitted by exposure to an infected person’s blood through shared needles.
Treatment can cure most Hepatitis C infections. However, if left untreated, Hepatitis C can cause serious long-term health problems. Symptoms of Hepatitis C may include stomach pain, vomiting or yellow eyes or skin. However, 70 percent of people infected with Hepatitis C do not have symptoms, underscoring the importance to those with potential exposure to undergo testing.
More information is available at multicare.org/safety-alert.
Rates of Hepatitis C have increased nationwide and locally in recent years, leading to increased monitoring of new Hepatitis C infections in Pierce County by the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department.
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