A medical technician arrested last week for allegedly infecting at least 30 patients with hepatitis C in New Hampshire previously worked at two Arizona hospitals, according to the Maricopa County Department of Public Health.
David Matthew Kwiatkowski, 32, was arrested by federal authorities July 19, and was charged with tampering with a consumer product and obtaining controlled substances by fraud, according to the FBI.
The county health department announced yesterday that Kwiatkowski worked at Arizona Heart Hospital and Maryvale Hospital in Phoenix from 2009 to 2010. He worked at the cardiac catheterization labs of the hospitals from March 2009 to June 2009, and from March 2010 to April 2010, respectively.
"To be clear, we do not know and may never know if this individual was positive for hepatitis C while working in Arizona in 2009 and 2010," county health department director Dr. Bob England says in a statement. "As a precaution, our affected hospitals are making every effort to make sure patients who could have been exposed are notified and offered testing."
Kwiatkowski allegedly spread the disease to at least 30 New Hampshire hospital patients through a scheme called drug diversion. Drug diversion occurs when hospital employees inject themselves with drugs meant for patients, then switch out the patient's treatment with another substance such as saline, the FBI says.
Kwiatkowski would steal an anesthetic drug called Fentanyl, which is essentially a more powerful version of the morphine. He'd then take the same syringes he used to inject himself with the drug and attach them to the replacement solutions, the FBI says.
Witnesses from the New Hampshire hospital told authorities that Kwiatkowski would sometimes come to the lab for procedures on his off days; he often looked like he was "on something," and he would some times exit lab procedures "sweating profusely," according to the FBI.
DNA samples taken by the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services show that the strain of hepatitis C carried by Kwiatkowski matches the strain of 30 infected patients at the hospital. Additionally, each infection was diagnosed during the time frame that Kwiatkowski worked at the hospital.
Kwiatkowski told authorities that he didn't know he had the disease until May of this year, but evidence shows that Kwiatkowski was aware of the diagnosis as early as June 2010, records say.
Law enforcement officials say that Kwiatkowski has worked in at least six states since 2007, including Maryland, according to an AP report. Federal prosecutor John P. Kacavas said more charges are likely to follow for Kwiatkowski.
Patients who may have come in contact with Kwiatkowski while he worked at the two Phoenix hospitals can call the MCDPH at 602-674-6844 for more information and to find out about free hepatitis C screenings.
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