The Grapevine

Utah Nurse Convicted For Spreading Hepatitis C

In recent news from Salt Lake City, a former nurse admitted to infecting several of her patients with hepatitis C and was then sentenced to five years in federal prison for it.

According to Elet Neilson, she was an emergency room nurse at McKay-Dee Hospital when she did the crime back in 2014, apparently injecting herself with the pain killers that are supposed to be for her patients. She then used the dirty needles on said patients, which then spread the disease.

However, prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney’s office argued that Neilson should receive a sentence of 90 months in prison because her actions were especially disruptive for so many people in the community.

With that, Neilson described that weeks prior to committing the crime, she went through a divorce and lost her house in a fire. She then apologized to everyone who had been impacted by her crimes.

However, the judge only gave her five years in prison, which displeased prosecutors from outside of the courtroom.

“This case illustrates addiction does not come without victims. It’s not a victimless issue. There is some sympathy we must have for those with addiction, but these decisions that were made were not mistakes,” United States Attorney John Huber, who believes the case is an example of drug abuse and how it can devastate people, said. He then urged that people suffering from it should get help.

During the trial, one man also testified to court as to how the nurse infected him with hepatitis C that day when he was only in the emergency room due to a dislocated shoulder.

Identifying himself as “Patient Zero,” the man described how the illness disrupted his life and his family, saying that whenever he asks for health care, he gets asked embarrassing questions.

“The people she infected are real people. We have real lives,” he said.

Patient Zero was among at least seven people that Neilson infected during a two-month period in 2013 and 2014.

“She didn’t intend to infect the people. That is a very unique, drastic and dark picture yet again, of our addiction crisis here in Utah,” added Huber.

Bad Nurse New York lags behind other states in vetting nurses and moving to discipline those who are incompetent or commit crimes. Often, even those disciplined by other states or New York agencies hold clear licenses. Chris Hondros/Getty Images