Legal fight winding down in hospital hepatitis C case

June 20, 2018 - 1:00 pm

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — A New Hampshire hospital is closer to holding others financially accountable for a traveling medical technician who infected dozens of patients in multiple states with hepatitis C.

David Kwiatkowski is serving 39 years in prison for stealing painkillers and replacing them with saline-filled syringes tainted with his blood. Despite being fired numerous times over drug allegations, he had worked as a cardiac technologist in 18 hospitals in seven states before being hired in New Hampshire in 2011. After his arrest in 2012, 46 people in four states were diagnosed with the same strain of the hepatitis C virus he carries, including one who died in Kansas.

His last employer, Exeter Hospital, sued the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists and several staffing agencies in hopes of recouping some of the settlement money it has paid to dozens of infected patients and nearly 200 who were not infected but claimed some harm. In the most recent development, attorneys said the hospital has reached a settlement with Triage Staffing. The complaints against two other agencies were dismissed in 2014, so if a judge approves the Triage settlement, the registry organization would be the only remaining defendant.

Attorneys for the hospital and the registry organization did not respond to requests for comment Wednesday. In court documents filed in February, all parties said they hoped mediation would resolve the issues. If not, the case is set to go to trial early next year.

Hepatitis C is a viral infection that attacks the liver. For most people, it turns into a chronic disease. Kwiatkowski, who learned he had the disease in 2010, apologized to his victims at his sentencing in 2013, saying his crime was caused by an addiction to painkillers and alcohol.

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.

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