July 19, 2012 — David Matthew Kwiatowski has been arrested in connection with the Exeter Hospital Hepatitis C outbreak that has sickened at least 30 people. According to U.S. Attorney John P. Kacavas, “With his arrest, we have eliminated the menace this ‘serial infector’ posed to the public health.” Kwiatowski is accused of stealing the drug Fentanyl, a powerful opioid anesthetic that is more powerful than morphine.
Kwiatowski is a 32 year-old medical technician who worked at Exeter Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, from April 2011 until May 2012. While employed, Kwiatowski allegedly engaged in drug diversion, a practice in which hospital employees inject themselves with powerful narcotics, re-fill the syringe with another liquid, replace the syringe where they found it. The dirty needle is then used on innocent patients, who are exposed to pathogens on the dirty needle and deprived of anesthetic before operations.
This morning, law enforcement arrested Kwiatowski at another Massachusetts hospital, where he was seeking treatment. He has been charged with stealing controlled drugs and tampering with a consumer product. Police have found empty syringes and needles in his vehicle.
Kwiatowski says he did not know he had Hepatitis C until May. At least 30 people who were treated at Exeter have tested positive for the same strain of Hepatitis C that Kwiatowski is infected with.
Exeter Hospital now faces numerous investigations from local and federal law enforcement, as well as civil and criminal lawsuits. The hospital is accused of negligence in protecting patients from drug diversion. According to an affidavit, witnesses say that Kwiatowski was observed to have “track marks” on his arms and appeared to be “on something.” He also attended operations when he was not scheduled to work, and left in the middle of procedures.
Officials at the U.S. Attorney’s office in Concord, New Hampshire, say that Kwiatowski never should have had access to the drugs.
It is unclear exactly how many people were exposed. Kwiatowski was a traveling medical technician who worked at many hospitals throughout seven different states. He has been charged with stealing Fentanyl in at least one other hospital in Massachusetts. Officials will not announce the other hospitals where Kwiatowski worked.
Hepatitis C is a severe, life-threatening blood disease that is chronic and incurable. People who have this disease often suffer from liver damage that gets progressively worse over time.
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