Health
4:23 pm
Thu July 26, 2012

Hospital worker accused of spreading of hepatitis C worked in Michigan

Health officials say a traveling medical technician accused of infecting 30 patients with hepatitis C in New Hampshire may have worked at several Michigan hospitals.

A New Hampshire U.S. Attorney's Office media advisory released earlier this week says the charges against Kwiatkowski relate to suspected thefts of the anesthetic Fentanyl.

The affidavit alleges that Kwiatkowski engaged in drug diversion and infected patients with Hepatitis C.  Drug diversion occurs when an employee with access, authorized or otherwise, “switches” syringes.  This “switch” occurs when a person steals a syringe containing narcotics intended for a patient, injects himself with the drug, and replaces the drug in the syringe with another liquid (such as saline), which is then injected into the patient...

 If a person with Hepatitis C engages in drug diversion in this manner, the patient who receives the fluid from the tainted syringe can contract the disease

Today, the Michigan Department of Community Health said it's working to determine the locations where 32-year-old David Kwiatkowski may have worked.

Oakwood Healthcare Inc. said in a statement that the technician worked at Oakwood Annapolis Hospital in the Detroit suburb of Wayne from January 2007 to September 2007. It says there's no indication that he had Hepatitis C during his employment there, reports the Associated Press.

Hospitals in Maryland are also investigating Kwiatkowski's employment record. In a press release from Maryland's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, authorities say Kwiatkowski is known to have been infected with the hepatitis C virus since at least June 2010, and they believe he worked in Maryland hospitals from 2008-2010.

Whether or not he was infected with the virus prior to that date is unknown, says the press release.

Oakwood Healthcare Inc. says there's also no indication any patients contracted the disease as a result of his employment. The health system is cooperating with authorities.

Kwiatkowski grew up in Michigan, and he worked as a traveler sent by staffing agencies to hospitals, reports the AP.

Hepatitis C is a contagious liver disease that ranges in severity from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a serious, lifelong illness that attacks the liver. It results from infection with the Hepatitis C virus, which is spread primarily through contact with the blood of an infected person.

-Elaine Ezekiel, Michigan Radio Newsroom