Spotlight Series on Hepatitis C

U.S. News

More Charges Expected Over New Hampshire Hepatitis C Outbreak

July 26, 2012

A traveling medical technician accused of infecting patients in New Hampshire with hepatitis C worked through staffing agencies for hospitals in at least eight states, federal prosecutors said Tuesday.

In New Hampshire, David Kwiatkowski was charged last week with two drug charges for allegedly injecting Fentanyl from syringes intended for and later used on patients at Exeter Hospital's cardiac catheterization lab, where he worked. So far, 30 patients have been diagnosed with the same hepatitis C strain that Kwiatkowski has. Health officials recently increased the number of patients they recommend get tested, and more cases could be discovered as these efforts continue.

Previously, only Exeter cardiac lab patients were being tested. However, testing is now recommended for anyone who had surgery at Exeter Hospital, or was admitted to its intensive care unit, from April 1, 2011 to May 25, 2012, when Kwiatkowski was an employee. He occasionally moved patients to operating rooms or the ICU, though he was not involved in procedures or patient care. The testing recommendation does not include patients of the hospital's ambulatory surgical center.

Authorities have not identified the other states; however, health officials in Michigan, Maryland, Kansas, and New York have confirmed Kwiatkowski's employment. Kwiatkowski, who grew up in Michigan, told investigators that he did not steal drugs, he is "not a shooter" and is afraid of needles, according to court documents.

New Hampshire is inviting affected patients there to a public forum Thursday night at Exeter High School, where testing clinics will be held Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. A rapid blood test will give results in 20 minutes, though anyone testing positive would need additional testing, said Dr. José Montero, state public health director.

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