Hospital Tech Indicted in N.H. Hepatitis C Outbreak


 
 

HOLLY RAMER, Associated Press | | Thursday, November 29, 2012


CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — A traveling hospital worker accused of stealing drugs and infecting patients with hepatitis C through contaminated syringes faces new federal charges in New Hampshire.

David Kwiatkowski, whom prosecutors describe as a "serial infector," was arrested in July and charged with one count each of illegally obtaining drugs and tampering with a consumer product.

On Wednesday, a federal grand jury indicted him on 14 charges — seven counts of tampering with a consumer product and seven counts of illegally obtaining drugs. The indictment against Kwiatkowski, who remains in custody, replaces the earlier charges.

Until May, Kwiatkowski worked as a cardiac technologist at Exeter Hospital, where 32 patients were diagnosed with the same strain of hepatitis C he carries. Before that, he worked as a traveling technologist in 18 hospitals in seven states, moving from job to job despite having been fired twice over allegations of drug use and theft.

Thousands of patients in 18 hospitals in Arizona, Georgia, Kansas, Maryland, Michigan, New York and Pennsylvania have since been tested for hepatitis C, a blood-borne viral infection that can cause liver disease and chronic health issues. In addition to the New Hampshire patients, a handful of patients in Kansas and one in Maryland have been found to carry the strain Kwiatkowski carries.

In Exeter, Kwiatkowski is accused of stealing fentanyl, injecting himself and then re-filling the tainted syringes with saline to be used on patients.

The new charges refer to seven incidents between January and March, and were handed up after prosecutors were twice given more time to present the case to the grand jury. In requesting the delays, prosecutors said they were still conducting interviews and complex scientific analysis in multiple states, though the indictments only address Kwiatkowski's time in Exeter.

Kwiatkowski, who pleaded not guilty to the original charges, told investigators he was innocent and suggested that a co-worker had planted a fentanyl syringe found in his car. His lawyer, Bjorn Lange, said Wednesday he hadn't yet read the indictment and had no comment on the new charges.

Exeter Hospital officials have said that while employees raised concerns about Kwiatkowski's appearance — some described him as shaky and sweaty — none suspected him of diverting medication. In each case, Kwiatkowski provided plausible explanations related to either personal medical issues or family crises, the hospital said. Kwiatkowski held the required certification for the job and was given good references from his previous two employers, including one who had said "David has been invaluable in helping us get our lab up and running."

In other states, the institutions that allowed Kwiatkowski to keep working offered a variety of excuses and explanations as to how he slipped by various background checks and managed to get licensed in other states. He was fired in 2008 from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center-Presbyterian after a co-worked accused him of stealing a fentanyl syringe and sticking it down his pants, but no one called police, and neither the hospital nor the medical staffing agency that placed him in the job informed the national accreditation organization for radiological technicians. A hospital spokeswoman said officials didn't believe they had enough evidence to contact police.

In 2010, Kwiatkowski was fired 10 days into an assignment at Arizona Heart Hospital after being found passed out in a bathroom stall, with a stolen fentanyl syringe floating in the toilet. Police were called but didn't file charges. Hospital officials also notified the staffing agency, which reported the incident to the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists. But the accreditation group dropped its inquiry without speaking to anyone at the hospital, and Kwiatkowski landed a new job in Philadelphia days later.
___
Associated Press Writer Lynne Tuohy contributed to this report.
 



Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Connect: Have a thought or feedback about this? Add your comment now
Related Topics: News, infected needles, hepatitis c outbreak, hepatitis C, david kwaitkowski

What's Your Take? Comment Now ...

Featured Careers & Jobs in EMS





 

Get JEMS in Your Inbox

 

Fire EMS Blogs


Blogger Browser

Today's Featured Posts

 

EMS Airway Clinic

Simulation-Based Assessment Facilitates Learning & Enhances Clinical Judgment

Simulation is an educational tool that can be used to develop and refine clinical skills of the student in a controlled environment before they progress to becoming practicing clinicians.
More >

Multimedia Thumb

Buffalo Medics, Firefighter Keep Working in Crash

Rural Metro medics describe crash that overturned their ambulance.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Drone Delays Landing of Ohio Medical Helicopter

Miami Valley Hospital incident raises questions over legalities of drones.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Four Killed in New Mexico Medical Plane Crash

Crash near fairgrounds claims patient and crew of three.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Texas Ambulance Involved in Crash

Odessa ambulance and car collide during response.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Building Explosion, Collapse in Paris Suburb

Death toll rises to eight after blast in Rosny-sous-Bois.
More >


Multimedia Thumb

New Mexico Air Ambulance Crash

NTSB investigates crash that killed four.
More >


Multimedia Thumb

Where in the World of EMS is A.J.? Scranton

JEMS Editor-in-Chief visits his hometown of Scranton, Pa.
More >


Multimedia Thumb

Braun Ambulances' EZ Door Forward

Helps to create a safer ambulance module.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Field Bridge Xpress ePCR on iPad, Android, Kindle Fire

Sneak peek of customizable run forms & more.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

VividTrac offered by Vivid Medical - EMS Today 2013

VividTrac, affordable high performance video intubation device.
Watch It >


More Product Videos >