Tech stole Fentanyl, gave patients hepatitis C
The case that has sparked debate over liability when drugs are diverted involved a contracted technician who stole pain medication from patients and gave some of them hepatitis C.
David M. Kwiatkowski, 34, pleaded guilty in 2013 to eight counts of obtaining controlled substances by fraud and eight counts of tampering with a consumer product, according to an announcement by U.S. Attorney John P. Kacavas, JD.
During the plea hearing, Kwiatkowski said that he had been employed as a healthcare technician in Michigan between 2003 and 2007. Beginning in November 2007, he became a "traveling technician," working through various placement agencies at medical facilities in New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Arizona, Kansas, Georgia, and New Hampshire.
Kwiatkowski admitted that, in June 2010, he became aware that he was infected with the hepatitis C virus. Kwiatkowski admitted that while employed as a healthcare technician at Exeter Hospital in 2011 and 2012, he devised a scheme to divert and steal Fentanyl for personal use and abuse. Kwiatkowski admitted that he would surreptitiously take syringes of Fentanyl prepared for patients, inject himself with the drug, and refill the syringes with saline, which caused the syringes to become tainted with his infected blood. He then replaced the tainted syringes for use on unsuspecting patients. Consequently, instead of receiving the prescribed dose of Fentanyl together with its intended anesthetic effect, patients actually received saline that was tainted with the same strain of hepatitis C carried by Kwiatkowski.
Kwiatkowski also admitted that he engaged in this conduct at several other hospitals, including Hays (KS) Medical Center and Johns Hopkins University Hospital in Baltimore, MD. His conduct initially came to light after several unexplained cases of hepatitis C were detected at Exeter Hospital in May 2012.
As part of the public health investigation of this hepatitis C outbreak, at least 32 patients who were treated at Exeter Hospital, six patients from Hays Medical Center, six patients from Johns Hopkins, and one who was treated at the VA Medical Center in Baltimore, have been found to have a strain of hepatitis C that has been genetically linked to the strain carried by Kwiatkowski.
Kwiatkowski was arrested on July 19, 2012, pled guilty to all 16 charges, and he was sentenced to 39 years in prison.