Refilled and reused syringes are at the heart of unfolding HCV tragedies in Las Vegas and Denver.

Guilty Plea, New Cluster Keep Two HCV Tragedies in Headlines

While lawyers said last week they have found a new cluster of Hepatitis C among patients treated at Las Vegas clinics involved in lawsuits and bankruptcy, the surgery technician who reused dirty needles at a Denver hospital pleaded guilty to federal charges Friday and faces sentencing in December.

The Las Vegas Hepatitis C (HCV) outbreak allegedly caused by staffers at three ambulatory care clinics who reused needles remains in the headlines there because plaintiffs’ lawyers involved in the case claimed last week they have identified three more cases. But this isn’t the only unfolding HCV tragedy in the American West. Kristen Diane Parker, a surgery technician who stole sedatives and placed dirty needles back on trays at Rose Medical Center in Denver, pleaded guilty to federal tampering and theft charges last Friday, and she appears to have infected 27 patients with HCV, the Denver Post reported.

Parker, 26, agreed to a plea bargain that dismisses 28 of the 38 counts filed against her. She will be sentenced in December, and prosecutors in her case have recommended a 20-year sentence. Her lawyer said Parker was addicted to fentanyl, a sedative, and would use filled syringes from surgery carts or in surgical suites, then refill them with saline solution and place them back on the carts, the newspaper reported. Rose and another surgery center in Colorado Springs asked nearly 6,000 patients to be tested for HCV after the details of Parker’s actions became known.

The full number of Las Vegas cases is not known. Plaintiffs’ lawyers are entering about 300 patients’ medical information into a database to search for HCV infections of the same genotype as cases confirmed to date, Brian Haynes reported in the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

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