For around 2,600 patients that had interactions with a nurse named Cora Weberg at Puyallup’s Good Samaritan Hospital in Washington, being tested for Hepatitis C could be extremely important.
Cora Weberg, a 31-year-old, is being accused of not only stealing narcotics from her job at the hospital, but also for knowingly infecting patients with Hepatitis C. So far, two cases of Hepatitis C among previous patients have been confirmed.
Authorities believe that Weberg was stealing narcotics on the job, injecting herself with the drug, and then injecting some patients with the same needle. Worst of all, Weberg has Hepatitis C, which can be transmitted by blood. There are conflicting reports on whether Weberg knew that she would test positive for Hepatitis C, according to the News Tribune. The nurse was arrested on Friday morning.
Weberg has admitted to using narcotics at work but says that she did not share needles with patients. Prosecutors would like to see her charged with second-degree assault. The charges state that “Weberg knew or reasonably should have known that her blood was likely to contain one or more blood-borne pathogens.”
On the other hand, Weberg’s lawyer Bryan Hershman said that he “hasn’t seen any evidence to show Weberg’s intent.” He also believes that the woman is being used as a scapegoat.
“They can draw no connection to my client, none — and they’ve tried…So what they know is, they’re facing civil litigation and they’ve got to find a scapegoat. What better person than someone who’s got some narcotics issues, right?”
Officials believe it would be wise to test around 2,600 patients that Weberg was in contact with between August 4, 2017, and March 23, 2018 for the disease.
— SimFly #BreakingNews (@Simfly1) May 5, 2018
The hospital first became suspicious when they noticed that Weberg was taking more of the narcotics from the hospital dispensing system than they would expect. The investigation has been ongoing for months, but it wasn’t until last week that she confessed to injecting herself with drugs she stole from the workplace.
Hepatitis C is a liver disease. For some, it can lead to a few weeks of infection whereas for others, it can be a lifelong illness. The varying degrees of the illness are categorized as “acute” or “chronic” and can have serious implications like liver scarring and even liver cancer, according to the Center of Disease Control and Prevention. Although only 2,967 cases of acute Hepatitis C was reported in 2016, the CDC estimates around 41,200 people suffered from it in 2016.