Health authorities believe that a travelling medical technician in New Hamphire, who worked across six states in the US, and is infected with hepatitis C, may have spread the infection to thousands of other people in the course of his work.
ABC15 reports Federal investigators say David Matthew Kwiatkowski, infected at least 30 patients at the Exeter Hosptial's cardiac cathertization lab in New Hampshire with the blood-borne liver-damaging disease. It is also believed that in the past several years he may have exposed thousands more at facilities in Arizona, Georgia, Kansas, Maryland, New York, and Michigan.
Medical Daily reports Kwiatkowski was arrested Thursday morning at a Massachusetts hospital where he was receiving treatment after investigation revealed that 30 patients all of whom had received treatment during the time Kwiatkowski worked there, tested positive for the same strain of the virus.
According to Medical Daily, "Serial Infector" Matthew Kwiatkowski, was charged Thursday with causing an outbreak of hepatitis C involving at least 30 patients. He was a medical technician at the Exeter Hosptial's cardiac cathertization lab from April 2011 to May 2012 where he illegally obtained prescription drugs.
According to US Attorney John P. Kacavas, in a press release: “The evidence gathered to date points irrefutably to Kwiatkowski as the source of the hepatitis C outbreak at Exeter Hospital. With his arrest, we have eliminated the menace this ‘serial infector’ posed to public health and safety.”
He is believed to have been infected with hepatitis since June 2010.
He was accused of stealing syringes containing Fentanyl, an anesthetic more powerful than morphine, and injecting himself and then replacing it with other liquids, such as saline, which were later injected into other patients in the hospital, resulting in the hepatitis C outbreak, a viral infection that can cause liver disease and chronic health complications. According to authorities, Kwiatkowski, 33, was allegedly an addict of anesthetic drugs. He would inject himself with needles at the lab and leave them where they were used to inject other patients.
Reuters reports one of the 30 people infected has now sued the staffing agency and the hospital where Kwiatkowsky worked.
According to CBS News, the infected patient alleged in the lawsuit that Triage Staffing Inc., and Exeter Hospital in New Hampshire, were negligent in hiring, employing and supervising Kwiatkowski as a travelling health technician.
Reuters explains that in a negligent employee action, the plaintiff must show that the employer was careless in hiring the employee and did not perform all the necessary background tests.
Exeter Hospital says it carried out all necessary background checks and tests before Kwiatkowski was hired. The hospital also said he received good references from previous employers. Reuters reports Kwiatkowski's co-workers had raised concerns after suspicions that he was using drugs.
ABC15 reports that Elenore Casey Crane, an advocate and former New Hampshire state representative, who is working with people who may have been exposed, said, "There's a problem for me, as a patient advocate, when someone goes into a hospital and comes out wondering if they're sicker than when they went in."