The Florida Times-Union
May 11, 2012
By William Browning
A former radiology technician at the Mayo Clinic who caused a hepatitis C outbreak by swapping patients’ syringes and led to one person’s death has pleaded guilty to 10 crimes.
Steven Beumel of Orange Park was arrested a year ago after being indicted by a federal grand jury. He faced one count of tampering with a consumer product resulting in death, four counts of tampering with a consumer product resulting in serious injury and five counts of stealing Fentanyl by deception.
The 48-year-old pleaded guilty Friday to all counts.
Beumel, who is infected with hepatitis C, worked at the Mayo Clinic from 2004 to 2010. In federal court in Jacksonville, he admitted to stealing syringes of Fentanyl during patients’ procedures and replacing them with syringes of saline contaminated with hepatitis C. The acts occurred from 2006 to 2008, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
The indictment says he injected himself with the painkillers and refilled the empty syringes with saline, spreading the disease even though he put new needles on the syringes given to patients.
Mayo fired him. An arrest report said Beumel acknowledged to detectives that he was addicted to Fentanyl. His attorney said last year that Beumel did not know he had hepatitis.
Epidemiologists worked a little more than three years to solve the outbreak at Mayo. The first person discovered to have suffered an infection linked to Beumel was a liver transplant patient who received a new liver in 2006. The patient battled hepatitis C for almost four years before dying, never knowing how he got it. He was 61.
The clinic tested thousands of patients who were potentially put at risk by Beumel’s actions, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said. Two patients were linked to Beumel.
The Mayo Clinic declined, through a spokesperson, to comment Friday following Beumel’s guilty pleas.
He faces life in prison. A sentencing date has not been set, according to U.S. Attorney’s Office.
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