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Lawmakers Push for Oversight of Medical Staff

Lawmakers Push for Oversight of Medical Staff

Colorado legislators heard testimony on April 30 on two bills that would put some medical staff under more scrutiny.

The measures stem from the case of Kristen Diane Parker, a surgical technician who had hepatitis C virus. Parker stole syringes filled with a pain killer, injected herself with the drugs, then left the contaminated needles to be used on patients. About three dozen of her patients tested positive for HCV. In February, Parker was sentenced to 30 years in prison.

One bill would require employers to report any medical worker under suspicion to the state department of health within two weeks and make information about the case publicly available, including to future employers. A second measure would require surgery technicians and assistants to register with the state Department of Regulatory Agencies, and require employers to check that a person is registered before hiring.

Once Parker's employer discovered she was diverting the drugs, she was fired and reported to authorities. However, by the time investigators caught up with her, Parker was employed at another medical facility. The legislation would allow DORA to evaluate an employee for addiction or remove her or him from practice, said the agency's Rosemary McCool.

"Our proposed legislation will help put a stop to repeat offenders who move from facility to facility seeking drugs," said Rep. Debbie Benefield, a sponsor of the bills.

Six states regulate surgery technicians in a similar fashion. The Association of Surgical Technologists supports the legislation.

"My hope is that health care facilities take these bills one step further and make sure they do their due diligence prior to hiring employees from out of state," said Lauren Lollini, one of Parker's patients who now has HCV.

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