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Thursday, June 20, 2024 | Back issues
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Hospital Slammed for Tech’s Hepatitis Spree

PITTSBURGH (CN) - A drug-abusing hospital technician infected dozens around the country with hepatitis C because employers shuffled him around and never reported him, a couple claims in court.

While working at UMPC Presbyterian Shadyside in 2008, David Kwiatkowski was caught stealing a syringe full of the powerful narcotic fentanyl, according to the complaint in Allegheny County.

"UPMC personnel confronted Kwiatkowski and found three empty syringes with fentanyl labels on him," the complaint states. "An empty morphine syringe was found in his locker. Fentanyl and opiates were found in Kwiatkowski's urine."

The hospital subsequently refused to let Kwiatkowski, an employee of Maxim Staffing Solutions and Medical Solutions, work with it again, according to the complaint.

But neither UPMC nor Maxim allegedly reported "Kwaitkowski's theft, use and/or diversion of controlled substances to any state, federal or other government agency, or to any law enforcement entity."

Thomas and Clara Walters, who live in rural Catherine, Kans., say Kwiatkowski went on to work in brief stints at hospitals around the country.

In June 2010, weeks into his ninth job since leaving UPMC, Kwiatkowski tested positive for hepatitis C at a hospital in Hays, Kans., according to the complaint.

Maxim had allegedly placed Kwiatkowski at the hospital

Thomas Walters says he was admitted to the cardiac catheterization laboratory there from August to September. After testing positive for hepatitis C in November of that year and again in August 2012, the patient learned that he had been infected with a strain of the virus "closely related" to the hepatitis C of Kwiatkowski, according to the complaint.

"Dozens of cardiac catheterization patients at hospitals where Kwiatkowski worked around the country have been infected with the same strain of hepatitis C as Kwiatkowski," the complaint states.

And the damage did not end in Kansas, according to the complaint.

The Walters say that Kwiatkowski next moved onto Exeter Hospital in New Hampshire. This summer, the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services "announced that more than 30 people associated with Exeter Hospital cardiac catheterization laboratory have been infected with the same strain of hepatitis C as Mr. Kwiatkowski," according to the complaint.

New Hampshire has allegedly issued a warrant for Kwiatkowski's arrest over the infections.

The Walters say they "did not know and could not have known by due diligence of the cause of Thomas Walters' disease process" until these allegations were publicly known.

The couple seeks damages for negligence, liability and consortium. They are represented by William Caroselli with Caroselli, Beachler, McTiernan & Conboy. Kwiatkowski is not named as a defendant in the complaint against UPMC and Maxim.

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