Posted by Neharika Sabharwal on December 04, 2013

A New Hampshire hospital employee faces nearly four decades of jail time for causing a Hepatitis C outbreak that infected dozens of patients last year.

David M. Kwiatkowski, 34, a drug addict has been sentenced to 39 years in federal prison for spreading the lethal liver destroying disease in patients through tainted needles while working at hospitals in several states.

Kwiatkowski worked as a “traveling” radiologic technician at medical institutes in New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Arizona, Kansas, Georgia and New Hampshire.

Kwiatkowski tested positive for in June 2010, and also claimed to have Crohn's disease, a digestive disorder. Kwiatkowski began working at New Hampshire's Exeter Hospital in April 2011.

According to investigators, during his stint at Exeter Hospital Kwiatkowski had been swiping Fentanyl syringes intended for patients undergoing surgeries. His modus operandi was to inject his own arm with the drug and then refill those empty syringes with saline and return them.

Despite being aware that he was infected with Hepatitis C, he tampered with a consumer product with "reckless disregard" for the potential risk he was posing to unsuspecting patients. Exeter Hospital employees discovered the outbreak in May 2012, prompting an investigation that led to Kwiatkowski's arrest two months later.

In all 32 New Hampshire patients have tested positive for with the same strain of Hepatitis C he carries, seven in Maryland, six in Kansas and one in Pennsylvania.

The U.S. attorney's office in Concord, New Hampshire, said in a statement, "Kwiatkowski used the stolen syringes to inject himself, causing them to become tainted with his infected blood, before filling them with saline and then replacing them for use in the medical procedure. Consequently, instead of receiving the prescribed dose of fentanyl, patients instead received saline tainted by Kwiatkowski's infected blood."

In August, Kwiatkowski pleaded guilty to seven counts of tampering with a consumer product and seven counts of obtaining controlled substances by fraud in New Hampshire's U.S. District Court.

After hearing court statements from about 20 victims and their relatives Kwiatkowski said, "I don't blame the families for hating me. I hate myself."

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