A Good Samaritan nurse possibly infected two patients with hepatitis C, and the hospital is recommending that 2,600 patients treated during an eight-month period get tested.
The nurse, who has not been named, no longer works for MultiCare.
Patients treated in the Emergency Room between Aug. 4, 2017, and March 23, 2018, who received injections of drugs, antihistamine or sedatives can receive free testing for hepatitis C and other communicable diseases.
An investigation by local and state officials showed that the nurse "was removing higher-than-normal amounts of narcotics from our dispensing system and admitted to diverting medications intended for patients," according to MultiCare.
The nurse tested positive for hepatitis C and treated two patients in December who contracted the disease.
A MultiCare spokeswoman said there is no evidence the nurse infected the patients, but they know the nurse tested positive for hepatitis C and so did two patients she treated who were not at risk for the disease.
Hepatitis C is usually transmitted through exposure to an infected person's blood through shared needles.
Good Samaritan has notified 2,600 patients about the possibility of being exposed to hepatitis C while treated in the Emergency Room.
The hospital pointed out that number is less than 5 percent of the 54,000 patients treated in the Emergency Room during that eight-month period.
Patients who did not receive notification letters are not at risk.
“We deeply value the trust of our community, and apologize for the worry this will create. We have taken extensive measures to identify anyone who may have been at risk for exposure, out of interest for the health and safety of our patients and the community,” Chris Bredeson, the hospital's president and chief operating officer said in a statement. “We remain committed to the highest standards of patient care and are working to make sure the affected patients are supported and have the information they need.”
Hospital officials said they have changed the reporting of narcotic use at Good Samaritan to ensure this doesn't happen again. They did not detail the changes, but said it will "help identify employees who deviate from standard practices for medication use."
MultiCare is offering free treatment to any patients who contracted hepatitis C while in Good Samaritan's Emergency Room.
Hepatitis C is an infection of the liver that is transmitted through the blood of an infected person.
Symptoms include stomach pain, vomiting and yellow eyes or skin. About 70 percent of people with hepatitis C don't have symptoms though.