Hospital worker accused of infecting patients with hep C will plead guilty

A hospital worker accused of infecting dozens of people with hepatitis C by tainting painkiller syringes with his blood has agreed to plead guilty, according to

David Kwiatowski, who admitted to "killing a lot of people" by stealing painkiller syringes and replacing them with saline tainted with his blood, will plead guilty on Wednesday to 14 federal drug theft and tampering charges. The guilty plea means he will get a lighter sentence--up to 40 years in prison. The "serial infector" may have exposed hundreds of patients to hepatitis C at 18 hospitals across seven states.

In a similar case from this spring, after a jury found UnitedHealth negligent for not properly overseeing a doctor who infected two patients with hepatitis C and ordered it to pay $24 million in damages, it said the insurer must pay an additional $500 million in punitive damages. The case was the first to hold an insurer responsible for a doctor's actions.

Focusing on a hepatitis C outbreak in 2008 stemming from gastroenterologist Dipak Desai's clinic, the plaintiffs claimed UnitedHealth's Health Plan of Nevada violated state law, which requires HMOs file yearly reports showing they reviewed the quality of health services their doctors and hospitals provide to members.

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