- Associated Press - Monday, January 13, 2020

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - A former Utah nurse who stole painkillers and infected several patients with hepatitis C has been sentenced to five years in prison.

The Salt Lake Tribune reports 53-year-old Elet Neilson was sentenced Monday after previously pleading guilty in federal court to tampering with a consumer product and fraudulently obtaining a controlled substance.

She acknowledged injecting herself with painkillers meant for patients while she worked as an emergency room nurse at an Ogden hospital. Her attorney said the syringes she used somehow became mixed up in the chaos of the emergency room.

Seven people contracted the hepatitis C Neilson carries, though state official said she exposed as many as 7,200 patients to the infection.

Neilson tearfully told the judge she was “repulsed” by her behavior and never thought her actions would affect so many people.

She said she turned to drug use in 2014 as a way to cope with a divorce, long overnight shifts and caring for her young son, who is autistic. She also said she didn’t know she had hepatitis C until the health department called her in 2015.

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