Hep C Scrub Tech Sentenced to 20 Years

Kristen Diane Parker, 26, the scrub tech who is infected with <"http://www.yourlawyer.com/topics/overview/hepatitis">hepatitis C and who agreed, earlier this week to a plea agreement on charges stemming from her alleged theft of fentanyl syringes has been sentenced to 20 years in federal prison. Parker allegedly stole the syringes for her own use, replacing them with saline after injecting herself and potentially infecting countless others with the disease.

Parker was indicted on July 23 on 42 counts by a federal grand jury: 21 counts of product tampering and 21 counts of obtaining a controlled substance by deceit, reported the Denver Post previously. These charges, said the Denver Post, only related to Parker’s alleged activities at Rose Medical Center, one of several facilities in which Parker worked. Parker was also charged with three criminal counts connected to stealing the potent pain killer, Fentanyl, the Denver Post noted.

The Denver Post reported that additional charges could be made in future indictments and that, if convicted, Parker—who was jailed without bond—could have faced life in prison. The original 21 counts were later reduced to 19 counts each because prosecutors were looking to focus on the 19 cases that were “easiest to prove,” said the Denver Post.

The plea deal enables Parker to avoid a potential life sentence, noted BizJournals. Parker ultimately entered a plea of guilty last week to charges of tampering with medications and obtaining a controlled substance, said BizJournals.

Parker pleaded not guilty to the indictment of 42 counts, but did acknowledge guilt on ten counts: Five of tampering with a consumer product and five of obtaining a controlled substance by deceit or subterfuge, said the Associated Press (AP).

In Colorado, Parker worked at Rose Medical Center from October 21 to April 13 and at Audubon Surgery Center from May 4 until June 29. Parker also worked at Christus St. John Hospital outside Houston, Texas between May 2005 and October 2006, the AP previously reported, and at Northern Westchester Hospital in New York’s Mount Kisco between October 8, 2007, and February 28, 2008. Investigations continue in all three states.

To date, said BizJournals, over two dozen patients have tested positive for the blood borne liver disease in relation to the scandal, citing the New York Times. More reports of patients contaminated as a result of Parker’s shoddy practices and drug theft are expected, as are lawsuits. A lawyer representing patients is threatening a civil action, said BizJournals.

Hepatitis C is spread by contact with infected body fluids, especially blood. The disease attacks the liver, and can lead to cirrhosis or cancer of the liver. There is no vaccine for hepatitis C and the incurable disease can be fatal. Hepatitis C is considered the leading cause of liver transplants. 

Fentanyl is a narcotic pain medication used for surgical patients and, as a result of swapping saline for the surgical pain medication, patients who were supposed to receive fentanyl, clearly were not administered their prescribed medication, noted BizJournals in an earlier piece.

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