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This award-winning blog supplements the articles in Hospital Infection Control & Prevention.

Lab tech charged in HCV outbreak, more than 1,000 patients advised to be tested

A former lab technician faces charges in connection with a hepatitis C outbreak that may have infected some 30 patients at Exeter Hospital in New Hampshire, according to press reports.

David Michael Kwiatkowski, 32, is charged with obtaining controlled substances by fraud and tampering with a consumer product, U.S. Attorney John P. Kacavas said.

The outbreak in the hospital’s cardiac catheterization unit was linked “irrefutably to Kwiatkowski,” Kacavas said. "With his arrest, we have eliminated the menace this ‘serial infector' posed to public health and safety."

The tech -- who worked in the lab until the investigation began in May -- has HCV and is accused of stealing syringes of the powerful pain medication Fentanyl intended for patients, the reports state. Authorities say he would inject himself with the drug, then replace it in the tainted syringe with saline solution, which would then be injected into a patient, Kacavas said.

Some 1,100 patients have been advised to be tested.