The case began in 2014 when local health department began an investigation after a number of Hepatitis C diagnoses. The investigation led to seven patients, all of whom received treatment from a nurse while receiving emergency medical care. During the investigation, officials found the patients had contracted not just the same genotype of Hepatitis-C 2B, but also the same sub-genotype.
The government used this as evidence to support the allegation the nurse first injected herself with intravenous opioid pain management drugs before giving the medication to her patients. Faced with this evidence, the nurse agreed to a plea deal with the government.
The deal included a guilty plea to two counts of tampering with a consumer product and two counts of fraudulently obtaining a controlled substance. Prosecutors pushed for a 90-month sentence, but the court stated a 60-month sentence was more appropriate.
The court defended its use of prison time in this case by stating the sentencing would serve two purposes. First, it was designed to help deter others from making similar mistakes. Second, the court stated the jail time was necessary as the infection was more than the result of a mistake, it was the result of an abuse of a position of trust. An agent for the Food and Drug Administration’s Office of Criminal Investigations stated those in the nursing and other medical professions should take note as the case serves as an example of the government’s continued push to “bring to justice” those who “compromise their patients’ health and comfort by tampering with needed drugs.”