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Hepatitis C Update

HaysMed reviewing internal policies

Published on -9/3/2012
Hays Daily News

Hepatitis testing ongoing


A Hays Medical Center spokesperson has acknowledged the hospital has "undertaken rigorous internal reviews" while waiting for additional hepatitis C test results possibly linked to former contract worker David Kwiatkowski.

Kwiatkowski was arrested July 19 in New Hampshire and is charged with illegally obtaining drugs and tampering with a consumer product. He is accused of stealing drugs from Exeter Hospital and contaminating syringes that were used on patients.

Kwiatkowski, who worked at HaysMed from May 24 to Sept. 22, 2010, is accused of infecting at least 32 patients at Exeter Hospital with hepatitis C.

Three patients at HaysMed have tested positive for a strain of the hepatitis C virus that is closely related to the cluster of patients in New Hampshire, according to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

Shae Veach, HaysMed vice president of regional operations, said the hospital is waiting for additional test results from New Hampshire Public Health Laboratory and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to make comparisons between the HaysMed patients and the cluster of patients in New Hampshire.

"While we continue to await the results of those tests, we also have undertaken rigorous internal reviews, in consultation with KDHE, to examine this individual's brief time at HaysMed in 2010," Veach said in an email Thursday.

Meanwhile, University of Michigan Health System in Ann Arbor, Mich., investigated Kwiatkowski for drug theft during his employment in 2006, according to annarbor.com on Thursday.

According to the report, Kwiatkowski was suspended from employment as part of an investigation into the larceny of a vial of fentanyl, a narcotic drug similar to morphine, but more potent.

Fentanyl is the same drug investigators believe Kwiatkowski stole from syringes at Exeter Hospital, according to the report.

"It is important to remember that officials have said this individual's alleged criminal conduct goes beyond the pale of anything they've ever seen," Veach said. "We have policies and procedures that address any number of possible scenarios, however, we are aggressively looking for any and all ways we can to improve our processes and systems based on this unique situation.

"From day one, HaysMed has acted swiftly to identify potentially impacted patients and provide them and the public with ongoing information, and we will continue to do so."

HaysMed and KDHE identified 474 patients potentially exposed to the hepatitis C virus, which causes serious liver damage, including liver cancer, and is the leading cause of liver transplants in the United States. This number includes 58 patients who have been identified as deceased before testing began. Of 416 patients available for testing, 375 had submitted specimens as of Monday, including some patients whose tests still are being processed. So far, 353 results have come back negative.