BOSTON — Boston health officials say they are notifying 57 people who may have been exposed to blood-borne illnesses when they were treated by a city paramedic believed to have tampered with vials of painkillers and sedatives.
The paramedic is believed to have tampered with the drugs during a six-week period in the summer of 2011.
The Boston Public Health Commission says it is not aware of any patients contracting an infectious disease as a result of the tampering but decided to inform those possibly affected “out of an abundance of caution for their safety.”
“We have no evidence that the paramedic actually has these infections,” said Dr. Anita Barry, the commission’s director of the infectious disease bureau. “But if people do want to be tested, it would be HIV and hepatitis, particularly [hepatitis] C. But again, reviewing the risks in this scenario, the risks are exceedingly small.”
While the alleged tampering happened over a year ago, health officials say they were unable to accurately identify those who may have been exposed until a state lab completed its testing of the medication vials in July of 2012.
The suspect’s name has not been released and no charges have been filed. The paramedic has been relieved of all duties and a criminal investigation is being conducted.
With reporting by the Associated Press and the WBUR Newsroom