Paients warned of HIV risk due to drug tampering

A South Jersey hospital alerted more than 200 patients by mail that they may have been exposed to HIV or hepatitis because of drug tampering by a now former employee.

It's a story that will make most people's stomachs turn and potentially be life-threatening. Arlene Polmonari in Atlantic City shared the disturbing letter she received from Shore Medical Center in Somers Point a week ago.

"If you had intervenous morphine at Shore Medical during June 1, 2013- Sept 17, 2014, as a precaution get the following blood tests for Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C and HIV."

Polmonari had both knee and back surgery during the time the hospital claims a former pharmacist, who isn't being named, allegedly swapped morphine out of vials and contaminated it with his own blood. Shore Medical sent out 213 letters warning people they could have been infected.

"It (the letter) says what if I test positive and it says it might take two weeks for them to get back to you with results that part really got me upset, Polmonari said.

The former real estate broker and widow demanded she get her test results back immediately. Fortunately she tested negative.

"We have been working with public health authorities to determine if patients could have been exposed to blood-borne pathogens at Shore through contact with this employee's blood," Shore Medical Center said in a statement.

Hospital officials and the Atlantic County Prosecutor's Office, are investigating the health scare. The medical center is providing patients free testing and concerned people can use this hotline for help and questions: 609-653-3900.