News, Patient Care

Boston Paramedic Suspected of Drug Tampering May Have Affected 57 Patients

BOSTON — As many as 57 people may have been exposed to blood-borne illnesses by a paramedic believed to have tampered with medical supplies, Boston health officials say.

Potential victims were notified by phone during the weekend, and will receive letters offering free testing for infectious diseases, the Boston Globe reported Monday.

Officials said they believe a paramedic tampered with vials of painkillers and sedatives during a six-week period in the summer of 2011.

The paramedic has not been named while a criminal investigation continues. No charges have yet been filed against the medical worker.

Barbara Ferrer, the executive director of the city’s public health commission, which runs the ambulance service, said officials are uncertain whether the paramedic carried any infectious diseases. They also do not know how he or she may have tampered with the medications, which are in an injectable liquid form.

Ferrer said 64 patients may have been exposed but seven died shortly after being transported to the hospital.

The alleged misconduct was discovered Sept. 6, 2011, Ferrer said.

The paramedic has been relieved of all duties.

Ferrer said the number of patients potentially exposed could not be determined accurately until the state drug lab completed testing of about 200 medication vials.