(ANDOVER, Kan.) — There are new developments in the case of a hospital worker accused of infecting patients with Hepatitis C. Two Kansans have now tested positive for the highly contagious virus.
Linda Ficken told Eyewitness News last week that she wasn't worried when doctors called her back for a for more tests. But the results now show she does have Hepatitis C.
Health officials say it's closely related to a strain found in a cluster of patients in New Hampshire. Those patients were all treated at a hospital where authorities say David Kwiatkowski was stealing anesthetic drugs and using contaminated syringes on patients. Kwiatkowski has worked at several hospitals in the country, including in Kansas at Hays Medical Center where Ficken was a patient. Kwiatkowski was arrested and charged in New Hampshire.
"At first I was upset, I mean I kind of expected you know it's one of those things that could go either way, but when the news comes that yeah, you have it, it's kind of a slap in the face," Ficken said.
Ficken was contacted by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment and told she was one of nearly 500 at risk. Those at risk had procedures done in the cardiac catheterization laboratory at Hays Medical from May 24, 2010, to September 22, 2010.
KDHE has tried notifying each of those patients about the potential risk. Some of have died of various causes. 334 patients have submitted blood for testing. 311 off them have tested negative. Two, including Ficken have tested positive. KDHE says some tests are still pending.
Ficken says she doesn't have any symptoms. Hepatitis C is a life-long live infection. It is the leading cause of liver transplants. It can also lay dormant in the blood stream and never cause a problem.
Andover woman victim of Hepatitis C exposure