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Details Emerging on Serial Infector

Details emerging on 'serial infector'

Published on -8/5/2012
Hays Daily News

By RANDY GONZALES

The traveling medical technician accused of infecting patients with hepatitis C was fired from two hospitals before his employment at Hays Medical Center.

David Kwiatkowski, who worked in the cardiac catheterization laboratory at HaysMed from May 24 to Sept. 22, 2010, was fired from a hospital in Pennsylvania in 2008 and again in 2010 at an Arizona hospital, according to a report from the Union Leader in Manchester, N.H.

About 460 patients who underwent procedures in the heart catheterization during Kwiatkowski's tenure have been notified, and blood tests on those patients are under way.

HaysMed officials said initial tests results could be available this week at the earliest.

"HaysMed continues to operate a hotline to answer questions from patients and the public," Shae Veach, vice president of regional operations at HaysMed.

"We have seen a positive response to this effort thus far, with the hotline receiving approximately 388 calls as of (Thursday)."

The Union Leader reported Kwiatkowski was fired from his contract job as a radiology technician at UPMC Presbyterian in Pittsburgh.

The hospital said Kwiatkowski was found in an area he wasn't assigned, then again at Arizona Heart Hospital in Phoenix, where he was discovered unresponsive in a locker room with syringes and needles on him.

Veach said the hospital has a screening process for prospective employees.

"HaysMed requires that contract agencies provide evidence that their employees have passed drug tests," Veach said in an email Friday afternoon. "All workers at HaysMed undergo a background check, which includes pre-work drug testing.

"HaysMed was not aware that Mr. Kwiatkowski had been fired from jobs in Arizona or Pennsylvania," he added. "Based on media reports, it appears numerous hospitals around the country are learning more about Mr. Kwiatkowski's work history than was known to us during the brief time he worked here."

Veach said HaysMed has requirements for contract agencies in regard to employment.

"HaysMed requires that contract agencies provide information such as prior work history, professional references and performance evaluations, as well as verifications that their employees have the necessary certifications and training for jobs they will do at our hospital before anyone begins work," he said. "Due to the pending charges in New Hampshire against this individual, HaysMed cannot comment further about him."

Veach said most of the employees at the hospital are not contract workers.

"In general, less than one percent of workers at HaysMed are from contract agencies," he said. "There is no one currently working at HaysMed under contract from the agency for which this individual worked, and we do not plan to use that agency in the future."

Police found Kwiatkowski intoxicated in a hotel room in Marlborough, Mass., on July 13, where they found numerous prescription drugs and a suicide note, the MetroWest Daily News of Framingham, N.H., reported.

Meanwhile, federal prosecutors in New Hampshire want more time to prepare their case against Kwiatkowski. He is 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, 30 of whom have been diagnosed with the same strain of hepatitis C he carries.

By law, prosecutors have 30 days to indict Kwiatkowski, but the U.S. attorney's office on Thursday requested a delay until Oct. 5, saying it needs more time for scientific analysis and to interview witnesses in other states.

Health officials have confirmed Kwiatkowski worked in at least 18 hospitals in eight states since 2003.

The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services has expanded the number of Exeter Hospital patients to be tested.

It now includes patients who were treated in operating rooms or intensive care between April 1, 2011 and May 25, 2012. Exeter Hospital estimated it would involve approximately 6,000 patients. Health and Human Services said the final list includes approximately 3,400 patients.

New Hampshire U.S. Attorney John Kacavas called Kwiatkowski a "serial infector."

Kwiatkowski told investigators he was diagnosed in May, but authorities said there is evidence he has had the disease since at least June 2010.

Hepatitis C is a blood-borne viral infection that can cause liver damage and chronic health problems.

* The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Testing continues for potential exposure

Published on -8/5/2012, 5:11 PM

Releated Story:  Testing continues for potential exposure


HaysMed has asked the approximately 460 patients possibly infected to have blood drawn and be tested for hepatitis C at no charge. The hospital encourages to have blood drawn Mondays through Thursdays at the Quest site, 2501 Canterbury. If this site is inconvenient, patients also can have the lab work done at their local hospital. Information about additional test sites is available on the HaysMed website, haysmed.com.

HaysMed also has set up a telephone hotline. The number to call is (877) 261-7140. The line is open 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. from Monday through Friday, and will remain available as long as necessary to provide information.

* RANDY GONZALES, HDN