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Hepatitis C Update

HaysMed patient files civil lawsuit

Published on -10/2/2012

A second patient at Hays Medical Center with a strain of hepatitis C closely related to that carried by former contract worker David Kwiatkowski has filed a civil suit in the court of common pleas in Allegheny County, Pa.

Tom Walters, a resident of rural Catharine in Ellis County, and his wife, Clara, are the plaintiffs in the suit filed Monday against a Pittsburgh hospital, UPMC Presbyterian Shadyside, and also against two medical staffing agencies, Maxim Staffing Solutions and Medical Solutions.

Kwiatkowski was a traveling contract employee who worked in the catheterization lab at HaysMed from May 24 to Sept. 22, 2010. He was arrested July 19 in New Hampshire and charged with illegally obtaining drugs and tampering with a consumer product. Kwiatkowski is accused of stealing drugs from Exeter Hospital and contaminating syringes that were used on patients, of whom at least 32 tested positive for hepatitis C.

Kwiatkowski worked at University of Pittsburgh Medical Center from March to May 2008 as a radiologic technician; he was placed there by Maxim Staffing Solutions.

Medical Solutions is the staffing agency that placed Kwiatkowski at HaysMed.

On Sept. 3, Andover resident Linda Ficken filed a civil suit against the same defendants. Ficken was a patient in the cath lab at HaysMed at the time Kwiatkowski worked there. She tested positive in August for a strain of hepatitis C closely resembling the strain carried by Kwiatkowski. On July 20, HaysMed sent letters to patients who were in the cath lab at the time Kwiatkowski worked there, notifying them to be tested for the disease.

Walters was a patient in the cardiac catheterization laboratory at HaysMed between approximately August and September 2010, when Kwiatkowski still was working at the hospital. Walters tested positive for hepatitis C in November 2010 and again in August, at which time he learned his hepatitis C closely resembled the strain carried by Kwiatkowski.

The latest test results from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, released Sept. 14, show four patients from HaysMed have tested positive for a strain of hepatitis C closely resembling the strain carried by Kwiatkowski.

KDHE determined 474 patients at HaysMed potentially were exposed. Of that number, 58 were identified as deceased from various causes prior to testing. Of the remaining 416 patients available for testing, 385 had submitted specimens, as of Sept. 14. There were 369 negative test results as of that date.

Hepatitis C causes serious liver damage, including liver cancer, and is the leading cause of liver transplants in the United States. More than 15,000 Americans, most of them baby boomers, die each year from hepatitis C-related illness.