HAZMAT scare disrupts Washington hospital


(Beckers Hospital Review)

Authorities are investigating a hazardous materials incident at Olympia, Wash.-based Providence St. Peter Hospital Jan. 2 that prompted the hospital to divert patients from the emergency room, according to The Olympian.

An 18-year-old man triggered the hazardous materials response after he told officials he bought an ingredient online to make the highly toxic protein ricin and was working with it at home when he started to feel ill.

Emergency personnel went to the man’s home, but he apparently did not mention the ricin then. It was only after he was taken to the hospital that it was discovered that he brought the substance with him.

When the substance was discovered around 9:30 p.m., hospital officials reported a possible hazmat situation, and a hazmat team responded.

Some people entering the ER were sent elsewhere, but serious trauma patients were accepted, a hospital spokesperson said. Other areas of the hospital remained open, and normal operations resumed by 1:30 a.m. Jan. 3.

The FBI is investigating the incident.

Providence and Thurston County health officials said the substance tested a preliminary positive for containing ricin, but there is no public health risk.

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