A Washington emergency room nurse is accused of infecting at least two patients with Hepatitis C by using some of their narcotics for herself and injecting them using the same needle.
KOMO reported that Cora Weberg, 31, was arrested Thursday night while trying to cross the Canadian border. Puyallup Police Captain Ryan Portmann said they don’t believe Weberg was trying to escape prosecution as she planned a vacation to Guam before her legal troubles arose.
Nevertheless, the attempt at leaving the country led to her arrest, Portmann said.
According to CBS News, Weberg was charged with two counts of second-degree assault after an investigation revealed that she was taking large amounts of narcotics from the emergency room dispensing system at MultiCare Good Samaritan Hospital in Puyallup. Officials claimed the nurse has Hepatitis C.
A probable cause document obtained by the network said Weberg “intentionally contaminated medicine or another substance with her own blood; she then administered the medicine or other substance intravenously; Cora Weberg knew or reasonably should have known that her blood was likely to contain one or more blood-borne pathogens; and Cora Weberg’s blood did, in fact, contain and transmit Hepatitis C virus.”
In light of the nurse’s alleged actions, the Washington hospital plans to test 2,600 patients who received injections of narcotics, antihistamines or sedatives at the emergency department while Weberg was on duty between August 4, 2017, and March 23, 2018. The affected patients will be checked for Hepatitis B, C, and HIV, according to KCPQ.
Hospital officials said 95 percent of patients who visited the emergency room during the 8-month period have nothing to worry about. It’s the 5 percent who are at risk of having the disease, they said, according to the news station.
“This nurse’s actions violated our organization’s values,” MultiCare Good Samaritan Hospital President and COO Chris Bredeson commented.
“Because of this, we violated the trust we have with our community.”
Spread through contaminated blood, the Mayo Clinic explains that Hepatitis C is a viral infection that can cause liver inflammation and liver damage. While patients with Hepatitis C were required to take weekly injections or oral medications, recent advances in medicine has made Hepatitis C curable with pills taken every day for two to six months.
The Mayo Clinic noted that about half of all people living with Hepatitis C don’t know they’re infected with the virus.
KOMO reported that Weberg is no longer employed by Good Samaritan Hospital. She was allegedly unaware that she had Hepatitis C while working at the hospital.
Weberg’s attorney told the News Tribune that his client denies using the same needles on patients that she used on herself.
Hospital officials said they’ll pay for testing of all 2,600 patients—and treatment for infected patients and their relatives if the virus has spread.
[Featured Image: Cora Weberg/KOMO video screengrab]