The surgical room nurse who infected at least 18 patients at Rose Medical Center in 2008 and 2009, was sentenced to thirty years in prison yesterday. The judge, in imposing a much stiffer sentence than federal prosecutors had initially agreed to, called the crime “as incomprehensible as it is unconscionable.” He said the hospital worker, Kristen D. Parker, had shown “a terrible selfishness.”
Hepatitis C affects liver function and can have lifelong consequences. All 18 victims have been matched by DNA analysis of the Hep C strain to Kristen Parker
Ms. Parker, 27, spoke before her sentencing, saying she would carry her guilt for the rest of her life. But Judge Blackburn showed little sympathy or compassion for Parker. Last month, he took the unusual step of rejecting a plea bargain that would have given Ms. Parker 20 years in prison, saying that it did not adequately take into account her victims’ fates.
On Wednesday, the judge said he believed that Ms. Parker knew that taking pain medication from people going into surgery — the used syringes replaced with water or saline — would increase their suffering, and that her dirty needles, placed back on the surgical trays for use, were tainted by hepatitis.
He said that her addiction-fueled need for drugs could explain her stealing the medication. What justified the lengthy imprisonment, he said, was her victimizing the patients yet again by putting back dirty needles.
Rose Medical Center issued a statement after the sentencing stating that the hospital would “continue to work with each of those who were impacted by Parker’s crimes to ensure they receive the care they need” and that systems for policing medications in the operating rooms had been upgraded. Fifteen victims have threatened to file a civil lawsuit against the hospital, and several victims and family members said Wednesday that they thought Rose was partly responsible for what had occurred.