Health officials across the country are scrambling to identify and test thousands of patients who may have been exposed to hepatitis C from a traveling medical technician facing criminal charges in New Hampshire.
A statement Thursday from Temple University Hospital confirmed the man at the center of the investigation, David Kwiatkowski, worked there briefly in April 2010. Now the hospital is reaching out to any patients who were treated while Kwiatkowski was at the hospital, and offering free Hep C screenings:
"On July 19, 2012, the U.S. Department of Justice implicated technologist David Kwiatkowski as the source of an outbreak of Hepatitis-C in a New Hampshire hospital and also indicated that, prior to Mr. Kwiatkowski’s employment at the affected facility, he had worked as a traveling radiology technologist on a contract basis in many other hospitals across the country.
Mr. Kwiatkowski was contracted two years ago, through a temporary staffing agency, to work in the Interventional Radiology Department of Temple University Hospital (TUH) for a three-week period of time: from April 7 to April 30, 2010.
A review of hospital records shows that 312 patients had procedures performed in the Interventional Radiology Department during the time of Mr. Kwiatkowski’s temporary assignment to that unit. As a precaution and to safeguard the well-being of our patients, Temple University Hospital is in the process of contacting those patients to offer free testing for Hepatitis-C.
Presently, we do not know whether this individual was infected with Hepatitis-C virus at the time he worked here nor have we found any evidence that he tampered with or contaminated any medications in our Department of Interventional Radiology. We have no reports of Hepatitis-C virus infections that have been associated with or connected to this healthcare worker’s conduct at Temple University Hospital.
Prior to being able to work here, Mr. Kwiatkowski’s status as a Registered Technologist (with the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists) was confirmed to be valid and active through December 2010; and his additional certification was confirmed to be valid and active through July 2010. He was also required to undergo a 10-panel drug screen – and tested negative for all illegal and controlled drugs that are screened as part of that test.
Our investigation has not revealed any inappropriate behavior by Mr. Kwiatkowski during his three weeks at TUH.
TUH continues to work with all local, state and federal officials in their ongoing investigation of Mr. Kwiatkowski’s activities.
Temple University Hospital is committed to providing high-quality, safe care to all patients; and we will take whatever steps are necessary to ensure the safety of our patients and staff."
Kwiatkowski is accused of stealing anesthetic drugs from Exeter Hospital and contaminating syringes that were later used on patients. Thirty of them have been diagnosed with the same strain of hepatitis C that he carries.
Health officials have confirmed that Kwiatkowski held temporary jobs in Arizona, Georgia, Kansas, Maryland, Michigan, New York and Pennsylvania before being hired in New Hampshire in March 2011. The staffing agency that hired him declined to comment Thursday.
Kwiatkowski told investigators he didn't steal or use drugs.