Kristen Diane Parker (AP Photo/Denver County Sheriff)
Kristen Diane Parker, a surgery technician in Denver, Colorado, will be sentenced to 20 years in prison for infecting over 30 patients with Hepatitis C during her employment at two hospitals. The 27 year-old heroin addict also exposed thousands of other patients to the deadly disease as she swapped out clean needles filled with powerful pain killers for dirty needles filled with saline.
As reported by MSNBC, Parker would steal syringes off of surgery carts that were filled with the powerful narcotic Fentanyl. She would then replace the syringes with saline and sneak away to the bathroom to inject herself with the painkiller that was intended for patients. Along the way, Parker became careless and eventually replaced doses with dirty needles she had already used.
Parker says she didn't know she had Hepatitis C. However, she does admit that hospital officials at Rose Medical Center in Denver feared she could have the disease and told her to get tested by her doctor. Rose Medical Center along with Colorado Springs' Audobon Surgery Center are the two hospitals where Parker worked and infected patients. Kristen Parker also admitted to stealing syringes at a hospital in Mount Krisco, New York. Officials have begun to test patients there as well.
Parker plead guilty to tampering with a consumer product and obtaining a controlled substance by deceit or subterfuge. She is expected to be sentenced to 20 years in prison at her next court hearing. Meanwhile, thousands of her former patients await testing to find out if they contracted a deadly disease while in her care.
In Metro Detroit, the screening process for hospital employees remains strict. Facilities such as the University of Michigan Health Systems, which offers health centers throughout Metro Detroit, conduct both pre-employment screening and extensive background checks on many of its employees. Even facilities for Senior Care, such as Visiting Angels in Metro Detroit, maintain high standards for pre-employment screening and training of its employees.
Kristen Diane Parker had a criminal record and a serious drug habit before she was employed by the hospitals in Colorado. She was able to slip through the cracks by passing her drug test and then proceeded to steal drugs from facilities to support her drug habit. It is not clear how much deceit she used to obtain her job. What is clear is that Parker stole drugs from patients who needed them, knowingly left them in pain after their procedures, and exposed them to a life threatening illness; all for the sake of getting high.