Ex-Utah nurse pleads guilty to infecting 7 patients with hepatitis C

A former Utah hospital nurse pleaded guilty Sept. 25 to diverting opioids and infecting at least seven people with hepatitis C, The Salt Lake Tribune reports. 

As part of a federal plea deal, Elet Neilson pleaded guilty to two counts of tampering with a consumer product and two counts of fraudulently obtaining a controlled substance.

Ms. Neilson, who has a rare strain of hepatitis C, admitted to injecting herself with painkillers before giving them to patients when she was a nurse at two Utah hospitals between 2012 and 2014. Health officials estimate that Ms. Neilson potentially exposed up to 7,200 patients to hepatitis C at both Ogden-based McKay-Dee Hospital and Davis Hospital and Medical Center in Layton, Utah. Consequently, at least 16 people patients were infected with Ms. Neilson's strain of hepatitis C, although she has only charged for seven cases.

Officials began offering free testing for patients in contact with her in 2015, and Ms. Neilson subsequently forfeited her nursing license. Police concluded that she did not intentionally try to pass on the disease. 

Ms. Neilson will be sentenced Dec. 5 and faces up to 10 years in prison.

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