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Boston paramedic may have exposed 57 to disease through drug tampering

Boston health officials notified 57 people that they 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. There were seven more patients who may have received compromised medications but they passed away soon after transport for reasons related to their initial medical event.

Barbara Ferrer, executive director of the Boston Public Health Commission, tells The Boston Globe that it is not thought that the paramedic carried any infectious diseases, but health officials do not know for sure. Nor do they know how the individual may have tampered with the medications, which are in liquid form and are injected.

The person's name was not released and no charges have been filed.

"The paramedic in question has been relieved of all duties since the alleged misconduct was discovered, and EMS cannot comment on any details pertaining to the employee's activities because of an ongoing criminal investigation," the Boston Public Health Commission said in a statement.

Drug tampering from a medical employee was recently eyed in ahepatitis C outbreak in New Hampshire, in which at least 31 people become infected with the bloodborne infection. Accused traveling laboratory technician David Kwiatkowski allegedly stole doses of an injectable painkiller from Exeter Hospital, used it on himself, and put the syringes back for use on patients at the hospital's cardiac catheterization lab.