A woman infected with hepatitis C by a former traveling hospital technician told him that he handed her and others "a potential death sentence."
Linda Ficken, of Andover, Kan., addressed 34-year-old David Kwiatkowski at his sentencing Monday in New Hampshire.
"I don't blame the families for hating me," Kwiatkowski said after hearing statements from Flicken and about 20 other people he infected and their relatives.
He was sentenced to 39 years in prison.
"I hate myself," Kwiatkowski said.
Kwiatkowski admitted stealing painkillers and replacing them with saline-filled syringes tainted with his blood.
He worked in 18 hospitals in seven states, including Temple University Hospital in Philadelphia, before being hired at New Hampshire's Exeter Hospital in 2011.
Kwiatkowski had moved from job to job despite being fired at least four times over allegations of drug use and theft. Since his arrest last year, 46 people have been diagnosed with the same strain of hepatitis C he carries.
Prosecutors pushed for a 40-year prison sentence, saying he created a "national public health crisis," put a significant number of people at risk and caused substantial physical and emotional harm to a large number of victims.
Defense lawyers argued that a 30-year sentence would better balance the seriousness of the crimes against Kwiatkowski's mental and emotional problems and his addiction to drugs and alcohol, which they said clouded his judgment.
In all, 32 patients were infected in New Hampshire, seven in Maryland, six in Kansas and one in Pennsylvania. Kwiatkowski, 34, also worked in Michigan, New York, Arizona and Georgia.
Two of the 16 charges stem from the case of a Kansas patient who has since died.
Authorities say hepatitis C, a blood-borne virus that can cause liver disease and chronic health problems, played a contributing role.