Lack of Reporting, Unsecured Meds Contributed to Hepatitis C Outbreak

CONCORD, N.H. — A radiology technician accused of infecting patients at Exeter Hospital with hepatitis C was caught stealing syringes full of painkillers and replacing them with ones filled with dummy fluid at a hospital where he worked in 2008, but no one reported him to authorities.

David Kwiatkowski worked at 10 hospitals in four years after being fired from Pittsburgh Medical Center-Presbyterian for stealing painkillers, the Associated Press reports. None of those hospitals were aware of Kwiatkowski’s disciplinary history when they hired him for temporary jobs.

Medical technicians aren’t as closely regulated as doctors or nurses, and there is no national database of misconduct or disciplinary actions against them as there is for doctors.

On Aug. 9, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services released its findings from an investigation at Exeter Hospital in the aftermath of the hepatitis C outbreak, Sea Coast Online reports. The hospital failed to secure drugs used to treat patients. After they were dispensed by the hospital’s dispensing system, the medication was left briefly unattended in an unsecured cart.

Exeter Hospital has since changed its process and syringes are not placed in a secure drawer located in the dispensing unit until they are needed for patients.

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