A medical technician arrested last week in New Hampshire allegedly stole powerful drugs from the cardiac catheterization lab in which he worked, injected himself and contaminated syringes in the process that were subsequently used by other patients who contracted hepatitis C.
It is certainly an explosive tale and one that has gained a great deal of traction since federal charges were announced against David Kwiatkowski last Thursday.
A question that might prominently surface regarding the matter in upcoming days is this: Should liability for medical malpractice and hospital negligence attach to Kwiatkowski's employer and some of his co-workers concerning known details of problematic behavior in his past and the stated suspicions of multiple employees concerning his professional conduct? Moreover, the case necessarily focuses on whether controls were sufficiently in place at the Exeter Hospital lab to adequately safeguard and monitor the narcotics that Kwiatkowski allegedly siphoned off and replaced with other liquids in syringes.
So far, 30 patients at Exeter have been diagnosed with hepatitis C, having the same strain that Kwiatkowski carries.
Ominously, there may be more, given that Kwiatkowski was a "temporary" medical technician who traveled widely and worked at facilities in at least six other states. Those include Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore and various facilities in Michigan. Attempts are underway to contact all possibly affected patients and have them test for the virus, which can cause liver disease and, in some cases, be fatal.
Notwithstanding the criminal background check that Exeter says was run on Kwiatkowski prior to his hiring, strong and varied evidence existed prior to his employment there that arguably should have raised reasonable suspicions about him and situating him anywhere near a medical laboratory.
Co-workers in other states, for example, cited lies that Kwiatkowski told. He was fired from one facility for falsifying time sheets, was accused of stealing the powerful anesthetic fentanyl from another hospital, and noted by several workers at Exeter to have acted "suspiciously" on several occasions.
Health officials are presently scrambling to determine the precise locations of all the medical facilities where Kwiatkowski has been employed.
Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, "Tech in hepatitis C case worked in Mich., Md.," Holly Ramer, July 21, 2012