Legions of critics complain that doctors are not regulated as closely as they should be, and that there is a strong need for tighter oversight and reporting of medical malpractice acts such as misdiagnosis, surgical errors and other acts of medical negligence. Notwithstanding that view, though, there is at least a nationwide database for reporting misconduct and disciplinary actions against problematic physicians.
The recent and sensational case of radiology technician David Kwiatkowski chronicling his employment stints across the country and the thousands of patients he might have potentially infected with the hepatitis C virus points contrastively to a virtual lack of control over dangerous and out-of-control employees in Kwiatkowski's field.
As myriad news sources have related in detail, it is truly shocking that Kwiatkowski was able to continue working in multiple states across the country and at more than a dozen facilities despite having an obvious drug problem and leaving multiple jobs following accusations of criminal misconduct.
In 2008, for example, a fellow worker at University of Pittsburg Medical Center-Presbyterian observed Kwiatkowski stealing a syringe filled with a powerful painkiller from an operating room. Additional syringes were found in his locker. A drug test indicated he had opiates in his system. He had replaced the stolen syringe with another filled with "dummy fluid."
Despite all that, Kwiatkowski was never arrested. In fact, the police were never contacted. Nor was Kwiatkowski's staffing agency or the organization that nationally accredits radiological technicians notified.
"It seems that what happens in Pittsburgh stays in Pittsburgh," says a spokesperson for a medical staffing agency in noting Kwiatkowksi's subsequent ability to continue working at hospitals throughout the country.
Following his work in Pittsburgh, Kwiatkowski was hired at many other facilities and forced to leave many of them. His employment history points centrally to the lack of any cohesion among the states in vetting radiologists and duly examining their qualifications and disciplinary records.
It also underscores the need, says a spokesperson for the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists, for a national database to compile reported disciplinary actions against technicians.
Were such a database in place during the years of Kwiatkowski's multi-state travels, media accounts might not now be telling his story at all.
Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, "Hospital tech's arrest sets off hepatitis scare, shows flaws in system," Aug. 15, 2012
- Our firm represents clients in medical malpractice and negligence matters that stem from events such as those described in this post. To learn more about our firm and practice, please visit our Pittsburgh medical malpractice page.