CONCORD, N.H. - A former New Hampshire hospital technician who caused dozens of people to become infected with hepatitis after injecting himself with stolen pain killers was sentenced to 39 years in prison on Monday.
David Kwiatkowski, 34, admitted in August to leaving dirty syringes for hospital use for years despite knowing he was infected with hepatitis C. He pleaded guilty to obtaining controlled substances by fraud and tampering with a consumer product.
He was sentenced on Monday by U.S. District Judge Joseph Laplante in Concord, New Hampshire.
"The whole reason I got into healthcare was to help people, and my addiction took that away," Kwiatkowski told the court before being sentenced. "I cannot begin to tell you how much it hurts me ... I don't blame the families for hating me. I hate myself."
Kwiatkowski worked as a traveling medical technician in at least eight states for nearly a decade before he was arrested last year while working at Exeter Hospital in New Hampshire.
He told authorities he injected himself with syringes of the painkiller fentanyl stolen from hospital supply cabinets, then filled the empty syringes with saline solution, causing them to become tainted by his infected blood. Hospital staff then injected patients with the needles, unaware they had been contaminated.
Some 45 people have been confirmed infected, prosecutors said. Kwiatkowski admitted he had swapped syringes to obtain fentanyl at least 20 times in Kansas, 30 times in Georgia and about 50 times at Exeter Hospital.
He said he was aware he had hepatitis C and that he was "going to kill a lot of people out of this," according to court documents.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that more than 12,000 people be tested for the potentially fatal virus, according to court documents.
Before the sentencing on Monday, more than a dozen victims described the devastating effects of the disease on their lives and families. Some 20 victims attended the hearing, including eight who had traveled from Kansas.