Narcotic Diversion by Radiology Technician Results in HCV Infections

April 11, 2012 | Risk Management News

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Five cases of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection, which occurred over three to four years at an acute care hospital, were attributed to drug diversion by an HCV-infected healthcare worker, according to the results of a study published in the April 3, 2012, Annals of Internal Medicine. After three cases of incident HCV infection were identified among patients at the facility between January 2007 and December 2008 that were unattributable to infection control breaches, the facility decided to investigate the hypothesis that the HCV transmissions occurred during drug diversion by one of its employees. Gene sequencing tests indicated that the HCV isolates from the three case patients were genetically related, so the facility conducted an investigation to determine possible sources. The investigation revealed that the only area in the facility where all three patients received a narcotic during their respective HCV exposure periods was in the interventional radiology unit of the hospital. The investigators were able to determine that one of the facility’s licensed radiology technicians possessed an HCV infection that showed more than 96% homology with the variants identified from the three case patients.

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