No Bail for Ms. Hepatitis C

Last week I wrote about Kristin Diane Parker, a lab tech in Colorado who may have infected up to 5,700 with the Hepatitis C virus. Parker confessed to police that she stole syringes filled with the pain-killer Fentanyl from the OR, shot herself up, put saline in the used syringes and replaced them on the rack in the OR. After getting fired, she admitted she went to work in Colorado Springs where she did the same thing.

Parker was denied bail yesterday. Her parents were in court and offered to have her live with them. But, the Magistrate said, she was living with them when she diverted drugs. He said she was a danger to the community. And did not believe her or her lawyer who tried to say she didn't know she carried the virus. A nurse said she knew.

I think there probably were conditions that would have reasonably assured the safety of the community and her appearance at further proceedings -- like bail conditioned upon her admission to an in-patient drug treatment program.

And while it doesn't bear on bond, my sympathies lie with the patients in the OR who needed pain medication and might have gotten saline instead. [More..]

As I said in my earlier post:

The war on drugs encourages illicit drug use. If Parker had been able to legally get her Fetanyl or heroin, and clean needles, she wouldn't have resorted to this awful switcheroo and 6,000 ordinary citizens would not be at risk of infection with an incurable disease.

So far, 10 cases of Hepatitis C have been confirmed among patients who had surgery at Rose Hospital while Parker worker there. The New York Times reports none have been "definitively linked" to Parker.

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    Yes (none / 0) (#1)
    by squeaky on Fri Jul 10, 2009 at 01:34:23 PM EST
    This is absolutely a great argument for ending the war on drugs. As far as I can tell, almost all the damage done is collateral damage in this silly war.

    The insanity of it all is breathtaking. It is soooooo obvious that drug abuse is a public health issue not a criminal issue.

    Hmmm. (none / 0) (#2)
    by MileHi Hawkeye on Fri Jul 10, 2009 at 01:35:30 PM EST
    My sympathies lie with all of those unfortunate people waiting out the results of their HepC tests.  

    Fear of the unknown is an awful thing to have to go through.  Especially when a positive test means an incurable disease and a lifetime of problems.

    Partially right (none / 0) (#3)
    by jbindc on Fri Jul 10, 2009 at 01:44:12 PM EST
    If there were no war on drugs, yes, it is true she could freely get this stuff and not be prosecuted.  However, she knowingly re-filled the vials and put them back to endanger thousands of others (my guess is, not under the influence of drugs, but with foresight and planning), so her actions are completely inexcusable - regardless of anyone's feelings about whether drugs should be legalized. You can't argue for drugs to be legalized and then also argue that people shouldn't be held responsible for what they do when they are high on or addicted to drugs.

    I have no sympathy that she can't be free on bond, and will instead reserve sympathy for those who actually deserve it - like the people she infected.

    This is one cold junkie... (none / 0) (#5)
    by kdog on Fri Jul 10, 2009 at 03:31:05 PM EST
    no doubt...ice cold.

    But unless she is a flight risk I don't see the point of keeping her locked up until she gets her day in court...her parents seem willing to make sure she doesn't bolt.


    I don't reserve my sympathy for anyone (none / 0) (#7)
    by MrConservative on Fri Jul 10, 2009 at 03:47:08 PM EST
    If Parker had been able to legally get her Fetanyl or heroin, and clean needles, she wouldn't have resorted to this awful switcheroo and 6,000 ordinary citizens would not be at risk of infection with an incurable disease.
    Oddly enough people can easily get things legally like cars, jewelry, cell phones, etc., etc., yet those same items still get stolen by people like Parker all the time.

    Not sure legalizing Fetanyl or heroin would stop people from stealing it...

    the issue is (5.00 / 1) (#14)
    by JamesTX on Fri Jul 10, 2009 at 05:28:45 PM EST
    that the cost of the drug is nothing -- pennies per dose. Any cost associated with it is due to regulation as a controlled substance. If she is what people call an addict, she could never afford the artificially inflated cost unless she was wealthy.

    Nobody knows why certain people need these drugs, and why they crave them so badly. Something about it is physiological, and isn't well understood. The mythical model of the drug being the source of the problem is obviously wrong. Some patients can take the drugs for a long time, and then come off of them and don't crave them. They never take them again or seek them. Others crave them uncontrollably after the first experience with them. That type of person is faced with a decision much like you would be faced with if you were denied water for three days and had the opportunity to get some, but it would put others at some undefined and non-immediate risk. Would you drink? Would you let your mind cut corners and and rationalize that it was safe? Would you think "just a little won't hurt"? Would you convince yourself that if you washed the glass, there would be no risk?

    Think of it this way. If she were a diabetic, and the drug were insulin, would your conclusion be the same? There is no evidence that this is any different.

    There is no shame and nothing wrong in having sympathy for her. Although she is not innocent, their are circumstances that we as humans should be sensitive to. It deserves some ethical deliberation.

    As the facts are, Jeralyn is right. It would have never happened if she could have gotten her opioids at CVS or Walgreens for the price of generic tylenol. Then she probably would have been perfectly functional and a danger to nobody. We partially created this situation, and we can't blame it all on her, although I am not saying she has no culpability.

    This is a policy issue, not an issue about guilt. The fact is, these laws cause more human suffering than they abate, and why do we need laws that do that?


    True... (none / 0) (#6)
    by kdog on Fri Jul 10, 2009 at 03:42:33 PM EST
    people will steal anything...but this lady probably had the cash to pay for her fix, but had no where to buy it.

    I think hospitals should rethink having pre-loaded syringes in the cabinet...if the dope is in a jar and it gets stolen or swapped for saline, at least no patient is at risk of disease.  The saline is bad enough but the risk of Hep or HIV is at least eliminated.  


    Maybe (none / 0) (#8)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Fri Jul 10, 2009 at 03:54:45 PM EST
    or maybe she would have just stole it anyway.

    Theft is not only the result of not being able to afford something, in fact it may very rarely be.

    Or maybe, if it were legal, she would have gotten her usage so high she couldn't afford to buy enough.

    Regardless, the point is, like you said, people will steal any/everything regardless of whether that thing is legally available or not. As happens every day.

    Crying that this incident is the fault of the WOD is patently absurd.


    Its the fault of this woman... (none / 0) (#9)
    by kdog on Fri Jul 10, 2009 at 04:47:08 PM EST
    of course, but we are left to wonder how much of a role the WOD played.  All these restrictions on sale, and outright prohibition, have effects both seen and unseen.

    claiming outright that it's the fault of the WOD is just sad and kinda embarrassing, imo.

    I'm big on the personal responsibility... (none / 0) (#11)
    by kdog on Fri Jul 10, 2009 at 05:06:54 PM EST
    putting dirty needles back on the shelf is all on her...she coulda just stole 'em like an honest thief and it wouldn't bother me, tyrannical times call for criminal measures, but putting them on the shelf full of saltwater is inexcusable and ya can't pass that blame onto policy.

    An honest thief? (none / 0) (#13)
    by nyjets on Fri Jul 10, 2009 at 05:17:49 PM EST
    In the world of ficion, maybe. But in real life there is no such thing as an 'honest thief.' All thief steal things that do not belong to them and they should be punished accordingly.

    Sure there is... (none / 0) (#15)
    by kdog on Fri Jul 10, 2009 at 05:31:00 PM EST
    they may be rare, but stealing is sometimes justified...to settle a debt that can be settled in no other way, or if there is no other way around tyrannical prohibition, or stealing bread from the mouth of decadence.

    In a perfect black/white world there would be no such thing...but in this grey one?  I believe there is.


    Fair (none / 0) (#12)
    by squeaky on Fri Jul 10, 2009 at 05:15:49 PM EST
    Can you imagine an alcoholic nurse emptying bottles of ethyl alcohol and filling them with water?


    Of course this latest collateral damage has everything to do with the WOD.


    Maybe, IF it was the price of tylenol. (none / 0) (#16)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Fri Jul 10, 2009 at 06:00:49 PM EST
    But A) we both know it wouldn't be and 2) people steal stuff for a myriad of reasons.

    The ability to afford something is often waaaaay down on the list.

    Many companies, for example, have to keep the pens, pencils and post-it notes supplies under close supervision, if not lock and key.

    As far as the rest of what you write, it is lengthy but it has nothing to do with my comment.

    Sorry, that was in response to JamesTX (none / 0) (#17)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Fri Jul 10, 2009 at 06:01:38 PM EST
    comment #14.