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NH hospital worker gets 39 years in hepatitis case

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Hospital Worker Gets 39 Years For Spreading Hepatitis C

By Holly Ramer

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) - A traveling medical technician was sentenced Monday to 39 years in prison for stealing painkillers and infecting dozens of patients in four states with hepatitis C through tainted syringes.

"I don't blame the families for hating me," David Kwiatkowski said after hearing about 20 statements from people he infected and their relatives. "I hate myself."

Kwiatkowski, 34, was a cardiac technologist in 18 hospitals in seven states before being hired at New Hampshire's Exeter Hospital in 2011. He had moved from job to job despite being fired at least four times over allegations of drug use and theft. Since his arrest last year, 46 people have been diagnosed with the same strain of hepatitis C he carries.

Kwiatkowski admitted stealing painkillers and replacing them with saline-filled syringes tainted with his blood. He pleaded guilty in August to 16 federal drug charges.

Before he was sentenced by Judge Joseph LaPlante, Kwiatkowski said he was very sorry what he had done. He said that his crime was caused by an addiction to painkillers and alcohol.

The victims spoke angrily and tearfully of the pain that Kwiatkowski had inflicted upon them.

Linda Ficken, 71, of Andover, Kan., was one of two Kansas victims to attend the sentencing hearing. She underwent a cardiac catheterization at Hays Medical Center in 2010, and said she is haunted by the memory of Kwiatkowski standing at her bedside for more than an hour, applying pressure to the catheter's entry site in her leg to control a bleeding problem.

"On one hand, you were saving my life, and on the other hand, your acts are a death sentence for me," she told him Monday. "Do I thank you for what you did to help me? Do I despise you for what your actions did and will continue to do for the rest of my life? Or do I simply just feel sorry for you being the pathetic individual you are?"

Lynwood Nelson, who was infected when he went in for a procedure at the Baltimore VA Medical Center in 2012, said Kwiatkowski "should receive the same punishment he gave us: the death penalty."

Prosecutors had pushed for a 40-year prison sentence, saying Kwiatkowski created a "national public health crisis," put a significant number of people at risk and caused substantial physical and emotional harm to a large number of victims.

Defense lawyers argued that a 30-year sentence would better balance the seriousness of the crimes against Kwiatkowski's mental and emotional problems and his addiction to drugs and alcohol, which they said clouded his judgment.

In all, 32 patients were infected in New Hampshire, seven in Maryland, six in Kansas and one in Pennsylvania. Kwiatkowski, 34, also worked in Michigan, New York, Arizona and Georgia.

Two of the 16 charges stem from the case of a Kansas patient who has since died. Authorities say hepatitis C, a blood-borne virus that can cause liver disease and chronic health problems, played a contributing role.

Ficken told The Associated Press last week that while she has struggled with fatigue since her diagnosis, a bigger blow came last month when her brother was diagnosed with leukemia and was told he needs a stem cell transplant. While siblings often are the closest match, she can't donate because of her hepatitis C status.

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charles000 December 03 2013 at 12:14 PM

The death penalty would be too easy of an "out" for this scumbag. Let him rot in prison for as many years as possible . . . he will meet another court of a more, eternal nature, soon enough.

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sodsailer December 03 2013 at 9:46 AM

What gets me are the defense laywers...their plea for less time !!! Wonder how they would feel if it was a love one of theirs....Hospitals can't be trusted and now we face Obummercare...GOD bless America

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eharebear December 03 2013 at 9:21 AM

What's wrong with this country? Why shouldn't he get a death sentence or a life sentence? That's exactly what he gave these innocent people. Good behavior he could get out in 20 to 25 years? Doesn't make sense to me. Too many bleeding hearts in this country for it's own good.

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liondog96 December 03 2013 at 8:45 AM

I still don't know how I got Hepatitis C. I'm glad it's only in my antibodies.

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Joey Payne December 03 2013 at 8:57 AM

Are you a crackhead?

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Allen December 03 2013 at 8:33 AM

This lousy piece of human garbage should be executed. What a stinking creep!

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antipodal2u December 03 2013 at 8:16 AM

Scumbag...Enjoy prison

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Linda Balzano December 03 2013 at 8:14 AM

this happened to me. No not by this guy, by a DOCTOR HARVEY FINKELSTEIN of Plainview NY reusing syringes for back injections!

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fishlover December 03 2013 at 8:11 AM

39 years but only do jail time 39 months,

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mistovev4 December 03 2013 at 9:44 AM

That's what I'm afraid of. The justice system stinks. The only people who get to serve full term are those who are convicted of a crime they didn't commit. Junk justice.

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andreawestthethird December 03 2013 at 7:43 AM

Hospitals apparently are not a 'safe place" only a place to take away your life or life savings.

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backpkr580 December 03 2013 at 7:43 AM

give him longer time in prison ... along with those who passed aids to other people knowing they have aids ....

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