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Earlier today, David Kwiatkowski, the hospital worker who admitted causing a nationwide hepatitis outbreak last summer and infecting dozens of patients with hepatitis over a 10-year period, was sentenced to 39 years in federal prison.  He'd pleaded guilty earlier this year and was due to get between 30 and 40 years in prison.  Ultimately, federal district court judge Joseph LaPlante opted to give him one year below the maximum term in that window.

In sentencing Kwiatkowski, LaPlante explained why he decided to impose a sentence one year less than what the government sought.

"The question is begged here why 39 years as opposed to 40? While the law doesn't view it as purposeful or knowing conduct, just viewing it as reckless conduct for a crime of addiction just doesn't do it justice," LaPlante explained.

"There is a component to your conduct that goes beyond recklessness," LaPlante told Kwiatkowski.

"There is a component of cruelty or sadistic or hostility or something about it," the judge added.

LaPlante told Kwiatkowski he could view his imposing one year less than the 40-year maximum the government sought as "a token."

"People do have a capacity for mercy. This isn't any generous helping of that. It's just a token ... It's important for me to recognize and remember as you'd spend the next 39 years of your life in prison, I hope you remember the one year you didn't get and remember and try to develop that capacity in yourself. I don't wish you death in prison, but to call this just a reckless act or the crime of a drug-addicted person would not be accurate and it would not be just," LaPlante said.

For those who don't know, when Kwiatkowski pleaded guilty in August, he admitted that from 2003 to 2012, he stole syringes of fetanyl from patients intended for surgery and injected himself with it.  He then replaced the fetanyl with saline before replacing them.  Thus, patients who thought they were getting a painkiller were instead getting saline tainted with Kwiatkowski's infected blood.  This continued even after he was diagnosed with hepatitis in 2010.  He did most of his damage at Exeter Hospital in Exeter, New Hampshire, where 32 people are known to have been infected.  He also admitted to infecting six people each during earlier stops at Johns Hopkins University Hospital in Baltimore and Hays Medical Center in Hays, Kansas.  One of the Kansas victims ultimately died.  Additionally, he admitted to diverting drugs in a similar manner in Georgia and Kansas.  He kept doing this right up to the day he was arrested in July 2012.  Prosecutors called him a "serial infector" with a drug habit that dates as far back as his high school days.  

Kwiatkowski's previous employers bear as much responsibility for this horror as he does.  He'd been fired or forced to resign from several hospitals for drug-related misconduct.  One has to wonder how his previous employers didn't notice.  

Kwiatkowski will likely be in prison until well into his 70s.  On the face of it, even this sentence seems way too light.  He actually admitted knowing that he could potentially kill a lot of people.  ABC medical editor Richard Besser was probably being kind when he called Kwiatkowski's behavior "the definition of evil."  On principle, someone like that should never be allowed to live among us again.  I can understand why prosecutors agreed to a lower sentence, though.  They probably didn't want to make the victims and their families go through the trauma of a trial.  Seen in that light, Kwiatkowski at least had the decency not to make the victims endure that.  It's probably the only time in the last decade that he showed any sense of decency at all.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Another bright shining light right in the face of (9+ / 0-)

    pure evil. Glad the Judge had a thought for a teaching moment and hope that is not lost on Mr. Kwiatkowski.
    May his victims find peace of mind and heart.
    Peace and Blessings!

    United we the people stand, divided we the people fall.

    by Penny GC on Mon Dec 02, 2013 at 03:45:01 PM PST

  •  A lengthy sentence for a horrible crime. (8+ / 0-)

    I'm glad to see him put away. I hope that if he ever gets out, he is too decrepit to do much of anything.

    •  I agree, and we are very likely to get our wish. (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      worldlotus, irishwitch, rebel ga, chimene

      A specialist told someone very close to me that everyone with hep C will eventually get liver cancer if something else doesn't kill them off first. Kiatkowski has hep C and is virtually certain to get liver cancer unless he undergoes a very costly and very debilitating full year of Interferon+Ribavirin therapy. Only about 20% of those who begin treatment stick it out to the end because the side effects are so awful, and even if the patient does complete the year of treatment his chances of clearing the hep C virus from his system are only 50-50. I'm sure it's little comfort to the patients he infected, but Kiatkowski has about a 90% chance of dying of liver cancer before his 39 years in prison are up.

      PS - my friend, who was almost certainly infected through sexual intercourse (experts now admit hep C can be transmitted this way - yet another reason to always use a condom), is among the lucky 10% who began Interferon+Ribavirin therapy to have cleared the virus from their system, i.e., 100% undetectable after 5 years.

      "Some folks rob you with a six-gun, some rob you with a fountain pen." - Woody Guthrie

      by Involuntary Exile on Mon Dec 02, 2013 at 05:57:56 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  This won't change anything but I hope it (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Smoh, Involuntary Exile, marykk, rebel ga

    brings comfort to the victims.

    Don't be that white guy telling African Americans what is and isn't racist.--kos

    by chicago minx on Mon Dec 02, 2013 at 03:50:25 PM PST

  •  I can hear the Republicans now ... (0+ / 0-)

    If those business hating Democrats would have just let us have tort reform then those hospitals would have never let this happen.

    You can lead a Republican to knowledge but no matter how hard you try, you just can't make them think.

    by FisherOfRolando on Mon Dec 02, 2013 at 04:08:28 PM PST

  •  Evil, not in his mind (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jbeach, irishwitch

    There are those who simply lack empathy, call them sociopaths, who consider their needs, and are able to ignore the damage done to others.

    While this may be considered comparing apples to oranges, one of the greatest facilitaters of this quality is ones uniform.  No it's not military fatigues but custom made suits with a clean starched white collar.

    What if you could make hundreds of millions of dollars simply by getting vast numbers of Americans to feel that the value of their home will always rise, and so they can borrow on it and spend this money, and it's free, since when they sell the house they will pay off the loan and the interest rate really doesn't even matter.

    This has to be legit, because the Federal Government is guaranteeing these loans.  Only nervous nellies wouldn't get in on this deal as the man at the bank told me.  Hey, whats happening, house prices are "dropping."  I better sell now, but everyone thinks this, so prices plummet.  I'm losing my houses, and my wife is livid, and my child has to drop out of school.  I'm a fool and a failure, and I have to find a way out, a permanent way out.

    The hospital worker who infected many people will get 39 years  in jail, and he deserves it.  Those who fostered this scheme, with the figurative and literal destruction of thousands of lives, will actually be rewarded.  They get to keep their high level positions and continue to be rewarded. And just in case you think it is only those on the other side of the political divide, this is about our pending Chair of the Federal Reserve, from Wikipedia:

    In a 2005 speech in San Francisco, Yellen argued against deflating housing bubble because "arguments against trying to deflate a bubble outweigh those in favor of it" and predicted that the housing bubble "could be large enough to feel like a good-sized bump in the road, but the economy would likely be able to absorb the shock.

    Oh, well, Anyone can make a mistake!

  •  A very terrible convergence (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Involuntary Exile, worldlotus, suesue

    of moral sickness and chemical addiction. Look at the damage done.

    The sentence is just.

    Bets on whether he is able to use in prison?

  •  You kidding? (0+ / 0-)

    If I were a victim of his, I'd want to see him get the death penalty.

    In person.

    I would sit there and watch him being lethally injected and go Yes when he died.

    Because really, he earned it.

    You are much nicer than I am.

    Irony takes a worse beating from Republicans than Wile E. Coyote does from Acme. --Tara the Antisocial Social Worker

    by Youffraita on Mon Dec 02, 2013 at 05:23:30 PM PST

  •  A terrible thing (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    worldlotus, Cassandra Waites

    I wonder how much of the disciplinary action in the profession involves impaired professionals.  I'd suspect it's a lot.

    If you think you're too small to be effective, you've never been in the dark with a mosquito.

    by marykk on Mon Dec 02, 2013 at 05:42:30 PM PST

  •  You are right, the institutions that passed this (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Involuntary Exile

    horrible person on, must have known at least some of them.

    Not the only case: Dr. Swango moved from one medical center to another while no one would speak out.

    From the moment he entered medical school in the late 1970s, people around Michael Swango thought he was a little odd. But even though he expounded upon his obsessions with violent death and serial killings to anybody within earshot, almost nobody connected him to the string of deaths among patients under his care. When an investigation finally took place at the Ohio State medical center, hospital administrators sympathized with Swango--against the direct testimony of patients and nurses--and seemed more concerned with how revelations of a murderous doctor might affect their public image than with the safety of their clients. And, remarkably, even after being released from prison in Illinois, where he had been convicted of (nonfatally) poisoning several of his coworkers, Swango was able to obtain positions at hospitals in South Dakota and New York. When American authorities finally started to pursue his case, he fled the country and began plying his trade in Zimbabwe. In June 1998, after being captured during an attempt to reenter the United States, he was sentenced to 42 months in federal prison--on fraud charges related to his employment in New York.
    The truly frightening aspect of Blind Eye is not the relentless chain of murders, but the ease with which Swango was able to repeatedly slip through the cracks in the medical system, simply by lying about the nature of his felony conviction. James B. Stewart methodically traces every step of Swango's career, laying out a straightforward narrative with all the suspense of a well-crafted thriller. Although attempts to "explain" Swango's behavior through psychopathology and a historical rise in the incidences of serial killing derail the ending somewhat, Blind Eye is still a must-read for true crime buffs--or anyone who enjoys good journalism. --Ron Hogan --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
    Blind Eye

    Science is hell bent on consensus. Dr. Michael Crichton said “Let’s be clear: The work of science has nothing to do with consensus... which is the business of politics. Science, on the contrary, requires only one investigator who happens to be right,”

    by Regina in a Sears Kit House on Mon Dec 02, 2013 at 05:51:30 PM PST

  •  Only in America... (0+ / 0-)

    would someone describe a 39 yr sentence as "way too light".

    It's not just the fault of the right in America that it incarcerates more people than any other country (both relatively and absolutely).

    We may have democracy, or we may have wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both. - Former Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis

    by RageKage on Mon Dec 02, 2013 at 09:20:36 PM PST

  •  Somewhat related (0+ / 0-)

    And this
    Over 800 people were infected. What it doesn't mention is how many pregnant women may have given birth to brain damaged babies, like Gene Tierney did.

    These hippy dippy anti vaccine parents who have caused these outbreaks, need to face severe consequences in the form of fines, jail time or both.

    The bubble brained Jenny McCarthy and Oprah promotion of McCarthys vaccines cause autism are partially responsible for this s**t.

    "Down with sodomy, up with teabagging!" Sign @ TeaBilly rally.

    by pitbullgirl65 on Mon Dec 02, 2013 at 11:26:58 PM PST

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