For anyone wondering how big the fallout is becoming from the explosive story details that are emerging in the case of a former medical technician who infected patients with hepatitis C in a New Hampshire hospital, the answer is becoming manifestly and quickly clear.
Big. Really big.
We first told readers of the story in a July 24 post that chronicled the case against David Kwiatkowski, an ex-employee at the cardiac catheterization lab at Exeter Hospital who is now under arrest. At least 30 patients who used syringes previously used by Kwiatkowski to shoot up the anesthetic drug Fentanyl have tested positive for hepatitis C.
That could be just the tip of the iceberg in a multi-faceted case that combines aspects of medical malpractice, hospital negligence, both civil and criminal charges and, now, an escalating and urgent medical investigation encompassing facilities in several states.
It has been learned that Exeter Hospital plans to test 3,400 patients for hepatitis C. Officials in other states where Kwiatkowski worked have expressed grave concerns and are also expanding investigatory probes.
Kansas officials, for example, say that they are contacting several hundred people who were patients at a facility where Kwiatkowski worked in 2010. New York authorities have put out a warning to all state medical facilities, telling them to carefully peruse their files for any evidence of Kwiatkowski's employment. Many other states -- including Arizona, Michigan, Texas, Maryland and Georgia -- are also conducting investigations.
And litigation is proceeding. A lawsuit was filed on July 22 on behalf of a patient infected at Exeter against Triage Staffing Inc.., a Nebraska company that hired Kwiatkowski as a temporary worker and placed him in facilities around the country, including at Exeter. The lawsuit charges Triage with failing to exercise reasonable care when it vetted, hired and placed Kwiatkowski.
Even more recently, five additional plaintiffs sued Triage on similar charges in a class action lawsuit brought in federal court in Omaha.
We will keep readers fully apprised of all material developments that unfold in this serious matter.
Source: The Union Leader, "Hepatitis patient sues staffing company," Jason Schreiber, July 23, 2012