A Colorado clinic improvises a response to quell a potential Hepatitis C outbreak that an employee might have started
Audubon Surgery Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., had a disaster plan to cover fires and storms, a flurry of H1N1 cases, even terrorist attacks.
They were not ready, however, for a crisis of another sort—a surgery tech who, authorities charge, injected herself with syringes full of a powerful painkiller, filled those same syringes with a saline solution, and administered them to patients at Audubon and at a previous employer, the nearby Rose Medical Center. She was infected with Hepatitis C, which can be transmitted through shared needles.
By the time Audubon had learned about the allegation on July 1 from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, more than 1,000 surgery patients could have been exposed to Hepatitis C, and the local media were prepared to break the story on July 2.
The resulting tumult—on the eve of a long holiday weekend—put a strain on the center as its scrambled to disseminate helpful information and dispel misinformation, all amid a criminal investigation.