08/26/2010 // West Palm Beach, FL, US // Sandra Quinlan // Sandra Quinlan
Jacksonville, FL—More than three years after the Mayo Clinic discovered an outbreak of Hepatitis C in several of its transplant patients, the Jacksonville hospital has found a source. The clinic notified authorities Tuesday, August 24, 2010, that a former employee had passed the viral disease along to at least three patients, as reported by News4Jax.
The Mayo Clinic found that several transplant patients had been infected with Hepatitis C in 2007. An investigation was launched as a means of determining how the viral disease might have transmitted.
According to Dr. William Rupp, vice president of Mayo Clinic and CEO of Florida’s Mayo Clinic, “Because we had tested these patients before the treatment and after the treatment, we believed that this was a health-care-acquired infection.”
Rupp stated the clinic began searching for common factors that might have contributed to the spread of the health-care-acquired infection, but to no avail.
“We then discovered on further testing that at least three of these viral samples were nearly identical when we did genetic testing,” Rupp added.
After tracking down places where the infected patients interacted within the hospital, interventional technology appeared to be the sole common source.
Twenty-three interventional technology employees were subsequently tested for Hepatitis C. A 6-year Mayo Clinic radiology technician was the only worker whose test results came back positive.
“When we did that genetic testing on his Hepatitis C, it matched the Hepatitis C of the three patients… That provides a link to this chain that we have been chasing for a number of years,” said Rupp.
The unidentified radiology technician was fired Tuesday after admitting to diverting IV pain medication intended for the now-infected patients.
Rupp contended, “The employee took a syringe and injected himself with the mediation… He then switched out the needles and then injected it into the IV line. He may have through that he was being safe, but it only needed a minuscule amount of blood on the needle to transmit.”
“We uncovered a profoundly disturbing new piece of information—that is, that a single individual violated this sacred trust (with patients) with his behavior by placing our patients and our staff at risk… This is heartbreaking,” Rupp concluded.
Two of the three known infected patients have since died, though only one fatality had suspected ties to the disease. The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office was notified of the employee’s deplorable actions on Tuesday night.
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