Safety Alert

Potential Hepatitis C Exposure for Some Good Samaritan Emergency Department Patients

June 7, 2018, Update

Our investigation of the Hepatitis C exposure at MultiCare Good Samaritan Hospital continues in conjunction with local and national health agencies. This week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provided genetic testing results for 14 samples from patients whose Hepatitis C test was positive during our screening process. Through that, we learned that it is very likely that samples from six of these patients are genetically matched to the two initial patients we identified earlier this year, with infections likely linked to care provided at Good Samaritan. These patients have been notified of the results, and we are taking responsibility for their treatment and working with them to establish personal care plans.

Five of the patient samples did not match the initial cases. We believe these patients all have chronic Hepatitis C acquired previously. We are helping coordinate their treatment as well. Three samples did not have enough of the active virus the testing requires. We continue to investigate these cases in cooperation with the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department.

These results validate the criteria we used to notify patients and underscore the need for everyone notified to be tested. Anyone who received a letter from Good Samaritan about this situation and who has not already done so, should come in for testing.

We apologize to these patients who were infected with Hepatitis C while in our facility. That should not have happened. The safety our patients is of paramount importance to our mission. As part of our efforts to notify, test and treat appropriate patients affected by this exposure, we are thoroughly reviewing the circumstances related to these exposures to ensure a safe environment for patients at all MultiCare facilities.

Read the original press release issued April 30 for more information »

Frequently Asked Questions

How was this situation discovered?

Two cases of Hepatitis C were reported to the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department in January and March 2018. The public health investigation into these cases revealed that both patients had received injectable narcotics from the same health care worker at MultiCare Good Samaritan Hospital. Blood from the two patients was tested at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and that test showed that the viruses matched genetically, indicating that the source of the infection for both of these patients was the same.

How did this happen?

We believe that a health care worker was taking part of doses of pain medications that were meant to be given to patients.

How did the hospital decide whom to notify?

Since the focus of this investigation is on the time that the particular health care worker in question was working, we are contacting all patients who received injectable narcotic or sedative medications when that individual was on duty.

We are sending written notifications by US Postal mail. Letters were mailed out starting Monday, April 30, and we expect all letters to be received within a week of mailing. If you do not receive this written notification from us, you are not at risk of exposure.

The hepatitis cases were reported in January and March, so why did it take so long to notify patients?

Every new onset case of Hepatitis C is investigated by public health to try to find out how the person was infected. Public health investigators look closely at any health care the case received during the possible exposure period to learn whether inadvertent exposure to body fluids during health care may have been the source. It was not clear that health care was the source for these two cases until the second case was reported in March and the virus was found to match through testing at CDC.

How likely is it to get Hepatitis C if exposed to it in a health care setting?

It is very rare that Hepatitis C is transmitted in health care settings because providers need to follow careful infection control practices to protect patient health and safety.

If I was exposed to Hepatitis C in a health care setting, does my family need to get tested, too?

No, only people who received a notification need to be tested. Transmission between family members is very rare.

Should other members of the public be concerned about exposure from the incident?

No. Only people who received a letter informing them they may have been exposed to Hepatitis C need to be tested because of this incident.

How many people have been tested?

So far, about 1,858 people have been tested.

More Information

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MultiCare Good Samaritan Hospital Leaders’ Official Announcement