Drug-Addicted Hospital Tech Sentenced for Exposing Patients to Hepatitis C

A former Colorado hospital technician has been sentenced to 20 years in prison after pleading guilty to charges that she stole painkillers meant for patients and then infected patients with hepatitis C after she injected them with a saline solution using her own dirty needles.

Kristen Parker, a former surgery technician at Rose Hospital in Denver, has plead guilty to charges that she infected at least 15 people with hepatitis C after stealing shots of fentanyl, a powerful and addictive painkiller. She was sentenced to 20 years in prison in federal court in Denver.

Parker, who contracted hepatitis C while using heroin in New Jersey, would inject the fentanyl into herself, fill the dirty needles with saline solution and then pretend to give ailing patients their pain medication. Parker claims she intended to use clean needles, but lost track of which needles she was using. She has claimed that she did not know she had hepatitis C at the time.

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Parker worked at a string of hospitals across the country, lying to employers about her past so she could get access to the hospitals’ drugs. While she stole fentanyl shots from a number of hospitals, only patients at Rose Medical Center were found to have tested positive for hepatitis C.

Rose Medical Center notified thousands of patients that they may have been exposed to hepatitis C after Parker was arrested this summer. Soon after, a string of hospitals across the country had to take the same actions to warn former patients, including facilities in New York, Colorado and Texas.

Hepatitis C is an infectious disease that can cause liver damage, including liver failure, cirrhosis and liver cancer. It is technically incurable, but very effective treatment has been able to eradicate the disease in some of those who contract it.

The most common means of infection is through injection drug use. The U.S. Centers for Disease, Control and Prevention has estimated that 60% to 80% of all recreational drug users in the United States have contracted hepatitis C from sharing dirty needles. Hepatitis C and other blood borne diseases, like HIV, can also be spread in medical facilities that do not follow the proper standards of medical care or properly sterilize equipment.

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  • jeremyNovember 11, 2010 at 1:05 am

    my mother was one of the first two to contract this disease from this woman. It is now nov 10 2010 and was just informed by her lawyers that she should just settle for a slightly higher price than the state cap which will never pay for her healthcare.

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