Colorado won’t license surgery techs
DENVER, Colorado – Colorado regulators won’t license surgery technicians, despite the recent case of a surgery tech who admitted stealing syringes filled with a painkiller and infecting three dozen people with hepatitis C.
The state Department of Regulatory Agencies said in a review announced Tuesday that it found no evidence of widespread competency-related harm caused by surgery technicians.
The review came after a 27-year-old drug-addicted former surgery tech admitted stealing painkiller at hospitals in Denver and Colorado Springs. That surgery tech, Kristen Diane Parker, awaits sentencing next month after a judge rejected a deal that would have put her in prison for 20 years.
Parker acknowledged stealing syringes filled with the painkiller Fentanyl from operating carts at Rose Medical Center in Denver and the Audubon Surgery Center in Colorado Springs. Prosecutors said she exposed nearly 6,000 patients at the two hospitals to the incurable blood-borne disease, and about three dozen were infected.
Parker had pleaded guilty to tampering with a consumer product and obtaining a controlled substance by deceit or subterfuge.
Regulators said in the decision that although surgery techs aren’t licensed by the state, the hospitals where they work are closely regulated. The Parker case, they said, couldn’t have been prevented by regulation.
“While this example is certainly illustrative of deplorable conduct, it is less clear that any kind of regulatory structure could have prevented” infections of patients by a drug-addicted tech, the report concluded.
Regulators went on to call licensing “an inherently weak response to criminal activity.”
“The deterrent value of administrative discipline pales in comparison to the possibility of imprisonment,” regulators said.
They also noted that the Colorado Hospital Association already has appointed a panel to consider safety and medication.
Anyone can ask state regulators to consider licensing a profession. The state report did not say who asked for surgery techs to be licensed.
Only six states – Indiana, Illinois, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Washington – regulate surgery techs, state officials said.
On the Net:
Department of Regulatory Agencies, http://tinyurl.com/ye46klv
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