On Tuesday, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment updated its total of Kansas patients who were infected with hepatitis C by David Kwiatkowski, a contract radiologic technician who may have exposed patients in seven states to the disease.
Kwiatkowski was arrested July 19 in New Hampshire. He is accused of using his position to steal drugs like the painkiller fentanyl and needles from Exeter Hospital in New Hampshire and then, once he had used the needles, returning them to the hospital to cover up his crime. Many of these contaminated needles were then unknowingly used on patients.
The charges in New Hampshire may not be the only ones Kwiatkowski will face. He is suspected of having done the same thing at hospitals in eight other states — Arizona, Georgia, Kansas, Maryland, Michigan, New Hampshire, New York and Pennsylvania. In Kansas alone, nearly 500 patients may have crossed paths with Kwiatkowski during the brief four-month period in 2010 when he was employed by Hays Medical Center in its cardiac catheterization laboratory, according to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.
Of the possibly exposed Kansas patients, 416 are still alive and 366 have been tested so far, reports the department. Three cases of hepatitis C matching the strain Kwiatkowski carries have been identified so far in that state.
In New Hampshire, where he stands accused, 32 patients he had contact with have tested positive for the same strain of hepatitis C.
The case has drawn national attention to the lack of methods to track problems with a particular radiologic technologist from job to job and across state lines. Even as Kwiatkowski was surrendering his license to practice in one state, Arizona, he was starting a new job in Pennsylvania, Bloomberg Business Week reported.