Hepatitis C Outbreak In NH Linked to Former Hospital Worker

Hepatitis C Outbreak New Hampshire

It seems that an outbreak of Hepatitis C at a hospital in Exeter, New Hampshire, has been linked to a former medical technician. The suspect, 32 year old David Matthew Kwiatkowski, is said to have infected at least 30 people when he worked in the cardiac catheterization lab (CCL) at Exeter Hospital. He is also suspected of stealing Fentanyl, a controlled substance that is more potent than morphine.

Based on an affidavit that was filed in New Hampshire’s federal court, David is charged with obtaining controlled substances by fraud as well as tampering with a consumer product. If convicted, he could face more than 20 years in prison. According to United States Attorney John P. Kacavas, “The evidence gathered to date points irrefutably to Kwiatkowski as the source of the hepatitis C outbreak at Exeter Hospital. With his arrest, we have eliminated the menace this ‘serial infector’ posed to public health and safety.”

Also in the affidavit, Kwiatkowski exhibited suspicious behavior, according to multiple employees at the hospital. He would end up leaving during CCL procedures, sweating profusely, and even attended procedures on his days off. There were also several occasions that syringes discovered in a restroom that was very close to the CCL; all contained in the affidavit.
According to CNN, one witness even said that she thought he “was on something” and unfit for patient care. A co-worker said he remembered an incident when David was “red in the face and eyes and had white foam around his mouth while he was on duty.” Ironically, Kwiatkowski has hepatitis C and was being treated at an undisclosed hospital in Massachusetts when he was arrested and will leave in police custody once he is discharged.

According to the Mayo Clinic website, Hepatitis C is passed through contact with contaminated blood, most often via shared needles, and is considered to be among the most serious of hepatitis viruses. It is typically asymptomatic, going undetected until liver damage shows up.

When questioned by authorities, Kwiatkowski told them he discovered he was infected in May of 2012, however; upon further investigation, it was revealed he tested positive in June of 2010. According to a statement released by the hospital, pre-employment drug testing and standard and criminal background checks were performed before he was hired. In a released statement, Kevin Callahan, president and CEO of Exeter Hospital, said, “It is deeply disturbing that the alleged callous acts of one individual can have such an impact on so many innocent lives. As a result of his alleged actions, people in our community, who in many cases are the friends and neighbors of the 2,300 people who work here, now face the challenge of a potentially chronic disease.”

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