David Kwiatkowski, a former medical technician was sentenced to 39 years in prison after he plead guilty to stealing painkillers and infecting 45 patients nationwide with hepatitis C through the tainted syringes.
Prosecutors said Kwiatkowski knew he carried hepatitis C, an incurable viral illness that attacks the liver, yet stole painkillers in syringes and spread the disease to vulnerable patients undergoing heart procedures.
While working as a traveling radiology technician, Kwiatkowski took syringes loaded with the painkiller fentanyl off trays prepared for patients undergoing procedures including cardiac catheterization. To avoid being caught, he would put back the old syringes, which he had used to inject himself and were tainted with hepatitis C.
David Kwiatkowski, 34-year old former college baseball player from Michigan, who trained to be a radiology technician, had little emotion during his nearly four-hour hearing. About 20 of his victims asked US District Court judge Joseph Laplante to sentence his to at least the maximum sentence allowed by the plea deal.
Prosecutors had pushed for a 40-year prison sentence, saying he created a “national public health crisis.”
Before he was sentenced, Kwiatkowski accepted Laplante’s offer to address the court. “I don’t blame the families for hating me,” David Kwiatkowski said after he heard statements from people he infected and their relatives. “I hate myself,” he said. “I’m sorry.” He added that he never meant to hurt anyone intentionally and had gone into the health care field to help people. “My addiction took that away from me.”
In announcing the sentence, Laplante said Kwiatkowski deserved the maximum because his actions were cruel and sad. “There’s a component that goes beyond recklessness,” he said. But Laplante said he took a year off the maximum “just as a token,” as a way to remind Kwiatkowski that “people do have the capacity for mercy and compassion.”
“It’s important for you to recognize and remember as you spend the next 39 years in prison to focus on the one year you didn’t get and try to develop that capacity in yourself,” LaPlante added.
Kwiatkowski was a cardiac technologist in 18 hospitals in seven states before being hired at New Hampshire’s Exeter Hospital in 2011. In all, 32 patients were infected in New Hampshire, seven in Maryland, six in Kansas and one in Pennsylvania. Kwiatkowski also worked in Michigan, New York, Arizona and Georgia.
At Kwiatkowski’s last job at Exeter Hospital in Exeter, N.H., he was caught after health officials noticed a spike in the number of patients contracting hepatitis C, and an investigation of blood samples from patients showed that they had the same strain as Kiwatkowski’s. He was arrested in the summer of 2012.
Kwiatkowski admitted stealing painkillers and replacing them with saline-filled syringes tainted with his blood. He pleaded guilty in August to 16 federal drug charges.
Two of the 16 charges stem from the case of a Kansas patient who has since died. Authorities say hepatitis C played a contributing role.
Victims not satisfied for possible sentence for David Kwiatkowski
Victims told News 9 they were not satisfied with the possible sentence for the man behind a hepatitis C outbreak at Exeter Hospital.
Hepatitis C Outbreak Suspect to Take Plea Deal
David Kwiatkowski admitted to using tainted syringes on patients, infecting them with hepatitis C.
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