Colorado

Oct 21, 2009 5:27 AM by Jeannette Hynes

Audubon: No Hep C cases linked to surgery tech

Federal test results show a former surgery tech did not give Colorado Springs patients hepatitis "C."

Last month, Kristen Parker pleaded guilty to a number of charges for using syringes filled with a painkiller, and refilling those same needles with saline for patients. Parker worked at both the Rose Medical Center in Denver, and the Audubon Surgery Center in Colorado Springs.

Thousands of people had to be tested for the liver disease. Those results show no one from Audubon got the disease from her. Prosecutors say she transmitted the disease to 16 patients from Rose Medical Center.

The State Health Department says 16 people tested from Audubon Surgery Center have hepatitis C, and the center tells us three of them have the same strain as the former surgery technician. But CDC tests show, no one got the liver disease from her. The testing is sort of like matching fingerprints.

"It's a DNA analysis, basically. It's an RNA analysis, but it's an analysis of the actual gene sequences to match," says Dr. J. Michael Hall, Medical Director for Audubon Surgery Center.

Kristen Parker will likely spend 20 years in prison for feeding her drug habit, and this incident has given doctors a reason to change their drug handling policies at the center.

"We feel concern for our 16 patients that do have hepatitis. They didn't know they had hepatitis. We discovered that, and unfortunately, they will have to be seen, evaluated, and treated," says Hall.

A few dozen Audubon patients have not been tested, but the center says they have not replied to phone or email messages.

Parker will be sentenced in federal court December 11.

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