In a way, Congress saw David Kwiatkowski coming.
This blog has chronicled in recent medical malpractice posts the material developments surrounding the case of the widely traveled and troubled cardiovascular technologist. Kwiatkowski worked in at least 18 hospitals in eight states and was eventually arrested and charged with infecting a number of patients in a New Hampshire hospital with the hepatitis C virus (many hundreds more in multiple states could also have contracted the virus).
For many years now, the American Society of Radiologic Technologists has been aggressively advocating and lobbying congressional members for far more stringent oversight of radiology specialists like Kwiatkowski than is currently provided for. Although 45 states engage in some level of regulation for jobs involving medical imaging and radiation therapy, the training and certification of workers varies considerably among them. Some states have no regulations in place at all.
And, thus, Kwiatkowski managed to slip through the cracks, notwithstanding a severe drug habit, a confirmed record of theft while on the job, fabrications in his work history and other irregularities that tougher employment standards might have noted and responded to.
"Unbelievable" is how Kwiatkowski's odyssey was described recently by U.S. Rep John Barrow (D-GA), who is a House co-sponsor of a bill that would create a federal law to create uniform standards over workers such as Kwiatkowski. The proposed legislation would require hospitals to have much more stringent vetting standards in place for potential radiology technicians. Those standards would have to be proven as met in order for any medical facility to receive Medicare payments.
Prior attempts to draft similar legislation have failed. Advocates hope, though, that the Kwiatkowski case will serve as the catalyst to bring about new law.
Source: The Washington Post, "Hepatitis C outbreak could boost chances for bill requiring radiation technologist standards, "Aug. 16, 2012