| BOSTON, July 26
BOSTON, July 26 Hospitals in several U.S. states
are scrambling to check if patients were exposed to the
hepatitis C virus by an itinerant medical technician charged
last week in connection with an outbreak in New Hampshire.
The worker, David Matthew Kwiatkowski, was charged with
federal drug crimes. Authorities say the Michigan native stole
drugs and contaminated needles while working at New Hampshire's
Exeter Hospital Cardiac Catheterization Unit in 2011 and 2012.
Kwiatkowski allegedly injected himself with the painkiller
Fentanyl intended for patients, and left the syringes for the
hospital to re-use.
Hepatitis C is caused by a virus that attacks the liver, and
is considered among the most serious hepatitis viruses. It is
passed through contact with contaminated blood, often through
Most people do not know they have the infection until liver
damage shows up years or decades later. It can lead to cirrhosis
or liver cancer.
Kwiatkowski is believed to have had hepatitis C since at
least June 2010. Thirty cases of the same strain have been
confirmed among patients from the New Hampshire hospital's
cardiac catheterization lab.
New Hampshire health authorities are asking as many as 6,000
patients treated in the hospital's operating rooms and intensive
care units between April 2011 and May 2012 to be urgently tested
for possible exposure.
Before New Hampshire Kwiatkowski, 32, worked as a radiology
technician and in cardiac labs in at least ten hospitals in
Michigan, New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Kansas, Georgia, and
possibly Arizona from 2007 to 2011.
A class-action lawsuit and separate negligence complaint
were filed this week in U.S. District Court in Nebraska against
Triage Staffing, a medical staffing agency that hired and placed
Kwiatkoswki at Exeter Hospital.
(Reporting By Ros Krasny; Editing by Vicki Allen)