A former surgical nurse accused of exposing as many as 6,000 patients to hepatitis C in Colorado previously worked at a New York hospital, where she may have exposed thousands more patients, state health authorities said today.
Officials at Northern Westchester Hospital in Mount Kisco have notified nearly 3,000 former surgical patients about the risk of infection during the time Kristen Diane Parker worked there, from Oct. 8, 2007 to Feb. 28, 2008. The New York State Health Department is recommending that all patients who had surgery at the hospital during that approximately four-month time period be tested to determine whether they were infected.
Parker allegedly was addicted to pain killers and would steal the drugs from syringes intended for surgical patients before refilling the syringes with saline solution and reusing the needles on patients during surgeries. In doing so, Parker may have exposed patients to hepatitis C she was carrying.
The former surgical scrub nurse was recently arrested and charged with crimes in Colorado, where she worked at the Rose Medical Center in Denver and the Audobon Ambulatory Surgery Center in Colorado Springs. At least 10 cases of hepatitis C have been found at Rose Medical Center and officials are still testing patients to reach a final tally of how many people may have been infected.
The news that Parker worked at the New York hospital before moving to Colorado raises the possibility that she may have similarly infected patients there, officials said. Parker reportedly has told Colorado health officials that she had tested positive for hepatitis C before going to work in Colorado.
However, New York State Department of Health officials said they do not know whether Parker had hepatitis C while working at Northern Westchester Hospital. They are working with the department to ensure that patients possibly affected are contacted and offered free blood tests.
The hospital has set up a patient help line at 914-666-1902 for information.