Boston Globe (12.02.2013)
The Boston Globe reported that on December 2, New Hampshire Judge Joseph LaPlante sentenced a traveling medical technician to 39 years in prison for infecting dozens of people with hepatitis C in hospitals across the nation. The technician, who admitted to stealing painkillers and replacing them with saline-filled syringes infected with his blood, had worked in 18 hospitals in seven states before coming to Exeter Hospital in 2011. At least four other hospitals had fired the technician for alleged drug use and theft, but he continued to find cardiac technologist positions in Maryland, Kansas, Pennsylvania, Michigan, New York, Arizona, Georgia, and New Hampshire hospitals. To date, 46 of the technician’s former patients have received diagnoses of his same strain of hepatitis C; the technician infected 32 of these patients at Exeter Hospital.
The technician, who pleaded guilty in August to 16 federal drug charges, expressed sorrow and attributed his crimes to alcohol and drug addiction. Prosecutors had asked for a 40-year prison sentence, but defense attorneys requested a 30-year sentence because of the technician’s “mental and emotional problems” and addictions that clouded his judgment. Authorities in Kansas stated that hepatitis C complications contributed to the death of one patient infected by the technician.
Several patients infected by the technician attended the sentencing hearing; they expressed their anger and pain, and urged the judge to hand down a harsh punishment. Hepatitis C could cause liver disease and chronic health problems and would prevent infected persons from donating blood or organs for life-saving medical procedures like stem cell transplants.