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Up to 4,800 patients potentially exposed to hepatitis C at Ogden hospital

By Ben Dowsett | Posted - Oct. 31, 2015 at 12:40 p.m.

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OGDEN — Up to 4,800 people may have been exposed to hepatitis C by a now-fired nurse at McKay-Dee Hospital between June 2013 and November 2014, according to the Standard Examiner.

Per information released by the hospital Friday, 49-year-old nurse Elet Neilson (also known as Elet Hamblin), of Layton, was released in November 2014 after her admission of diverting emergency department drugs intended for patients, the Examiner reports. Neilson and a patient treated in the emergency department were both infected with the same hepatitis genotype, the Utah Department of Health reported, and the infections could be connected.

Due to concerns of exposure to the virus, letters to 4,800 people who may have been in contact with either individual were sent out Friday, the Examiner reports. It was unclear who infected whom or the method by which the infection took place, a hospital spokesman said, and officials are unsure if the disease has spread further.

Hepatitis C, a blood-borne illness that affects the liver, is not a high-risk disease as far as mass contraction. There is still risk, however, and anyone who receives one of the letters sent out by the hospital will have a free blood test made available to them, the Examiner reports.

Neilson was terminated after admitting to diverting medication for an unauthorized purpose, per the Examiner. According to the hospital spokesman, she was using the correct medication for patients, but ordering larger amounts than prescribed and diverting the remaining medicine, the Examiner reports. Neilson was first charged with third-degree felony attempted possession or use of a controlled substance, but the charge was changed to a class A misdemeanor under condition of a guilty plea entered in May 2015, according to the Examiner.

An open investigation remains ongoing. A hospital official said any patients who did in fact contract the disease will have their treatment paid for by McKay-Dee Hospital, according to the Examiner.

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