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A Nurse’s Alleged Opioid Theft Led to a Blood Infection Outbreak at a New York Hospital

Picture: Rick Bowmer (AP)

An outbreak of a uncommon an infection at a western New York hospital in 2018 was sparked by a nurse’s opioid use dysfunction, a brand new case report out Thursday appears to verify. The nurse is alleged to have taken intravenous opioid painkillers for her personal private use, changing the fluid she took with water—water that turned out to be contaminated with dangerous micro organism. Her actions in the end led to 6 most cancers sufferers growing critical blood infections, although none died consequently.

The case report was printed Thursday within the New England of Drugs by the nurse’s former colleagues on the Roswell Park Complete Most cancers Heart in Buffalo, New York. In accordance with the report, six sufferers got here down with an an infection of Sphingomonas paucimobilis from June to July 2018.

A ubiquitous bug present in soil and water, S. paucimobilis hardly ever harms folks, normally sickening these with weakened immune methods. Even rarer was its presence within the bloodstream of all six sufferers, which led the docs to suspect medical contamination. Ultimately, they traced the supply to syringes of hydromorphone, a potent opioid used for average to extreme ache. Additional investigation revealed that one nurse had repeatedly accessed a medication drawer when she wasn’t presupposed to, and testing confirmed the contents of the syringes had been watered down.

“We concluded that a portion of the narcotic had been removed and replaced with an equal volume of tap water, which contaminated the [intravenous drugs] with waterborne bacteria,” they wrote.

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Of the six sufferers, two had been hospitalized and wanted extended antibiotic therapy, whereas the an infection may need prolonged one other affected person’s hospitalization. Three sufferers died quickly after, however not one of the deaths had been considered attributable to the infections.

The nurse’s destiny and identification will not be specified within the case report. However Roswell Park officers introduced final September that the worker in query was not working there, and this June, the U.S. Lawyer’s Workplace of the Western District of New York introduced fees in opposition to 27-year-old Kelsey A. Mulvey, alleging that she stole ache drugs whereas working at Roswell Park final yr and that she violated the Well being Insurance coverage Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

In accordance with the prosecutors, Mulvey not solely tampered with and stole doses of intravenous opioids, but additionally stole opioid capsules and the benzodiazepine lorazepam. She is alleged to have stolen the drugs for private use, to not promote them. The fees—which embrace that she did not correctly present remedy for 81 sufferers between February and June of 2018—carry a most sentence of 10 years. In her first court docket look in June, she pled not responsible.

As for the hospital itself, the authors reported that “security surveillance was intensified, including installation of video monitoring,” within the aftermath of the outbreak, whereas the employees was given coaching and schooling on learn how to spot docs and different medical professionals attempting to illegally divert medicine away from sufferers.

“We share our experience to alert health care providers that, in this age of profound prevalence of opioid addiction, drug diversion is an important consideration when a cluster of waterborne bacteremia is identified,” they wrote.

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