Boston health officials say a paramedic may have tampered with vials of drugs and infected dozens of people.
A city public health department spokesperson says that at least 57 people treated in a city-run ambulance may have been exposed to blood-borne illnesses. They say an unidentified paramedic may have tampered with syringes full of sedatives and painkillers during six-week period in the summer of 2011.
Officials are in the process of contacting potential victims to inform them and offer free medical testing.
Seven people who were treated by that paramedic have passed away, but officials believe the deaths were unrelated to the possible drug contamination.
A criminal investigation is underway. The paramedic was fired last summer, and so far, is not facing any charges.
Statement from Boston EMS:
"As part of an ongoing investigation initiated by Boston EMS into misconduct by one of its uniformed paramedics, the department has notified 57 patients that they potentially received compromised medications during EMS treatment. The 57 patients received doses of controlled medications that may have been tampered with by the suspected employee during a six week period in the summer of 2011.
"All 57 patients have been offered free screening for infectious diseases, and the Boston Public Health Commission is running an incident hotline staffed by trained clinicians to answer questions and provide information to these individuals. However, the department is not aware of the suspect having or transmitting an infectious disease to any patients.
"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."