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Drug-addicted surgery tech gave hepatitis C to dozens of patients

Tuesday, March 30, 2010 by: E. Huff, staff writer
Tags: hepatitis, surgery, health news

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(NaturalNews) A Colorado woman is facing a 20-year prison sentence for carelessly infecting at least 36 patients with hepatitis C during her time as a surgery technician. Kristen Parker somehow made it through hospital drug screening procedures and proceeded to steal drugs like Fentanyl from syringes and refill them with saline for use on patients.

Hepatitis C is a serious blood-borne illness that can lead to serious liver problems and cancer. Since it is commonly asymptomatic, many people may not even realize they have it.

Parker's drug addiction caused her to begin stealing the drugs from a New York hospital where she previously worked. Originally, she took care to fill clean syringes with saline after she took the drugs from them, however she admits that while working in Colorado she became lazy, refilling the used syringes instead.

According to prosecutors, about 6,000 people were potentially exposed to hepatitis C from the tainted needles but only 36 have tested positive thus far. Officials advised roughly 2,800 patients from the New York hospital to get tested as well but the hospital released a statement saying that it believed none of its patients became infected because of Parker.

Back in New Jersey, Parker faced theft and larceny charges for stealing diapers and groceries after being fired from her job at the hospital in New York. According to her testimony, she was also fired from the Houston hospital, both times because of performance problems and disputes with coworkers.

Parker explained that part of the reason she began to reuse dirty needles was because she started to lose track of which ones were clean and which ones were dirty. Because she kept them all in the same pocket, she often became confused with which ones were which and decided to just use whatever she pulled out.

Parker also confessed awareness that patients who were supposed to receive the Fentanyl she stole, which is up to 100 times more powerful than morphine, experienced great pain from receiving saline instead. The medical monitors used to gauge their conditions made this very clear.

Pat Criscito, an author and writer from Monument, Colorado who was one of the patients exposed to Parker's tainted needles, believes that Parker should face attempted murder charges for her reckless behavior. Even though Criscito tested negative for hepatitis C, she believes that Parker's behavior was inexcusably selfish.

Parker admitted that her behavior was inexcusable and is not seeking forgiveness for her crimes.

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