The Globe reported Saturday that the former Exeter Hospital medical technician accused of infecting more than 30 patients with hepatitis C worked in recent years at hospitals in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Maryland, and New York. Now, the Associated Press reports, officials in Kansas also are working to notify about 460 patients treated at Hays Medical Center who may have been exposed.
David Kwiatkowski was arrested Thursday at a Massachusetts hospital and charged with fraudulently obtaining controlled substances and tampering with a consumer product. The 32-year-old is accused of stealing fentanyl, a powerful anesthetic, from Exeter Hospital’s cardiac catheterization lab and returning dirty syringes to treatment areas where they were used on patients.
“We understand patients and their loved ones may be very concerned about this situation,” Kansas Health Officer Robert Moser said in a statement, the AP reports. “I would like to reassure the public that we have no reason to be concerned about additional risks to the public.”
In New Hampshire, Exeter Hospital released a defense Friday afternoon, in a statement on its website. Here’s an excerpt:
In every case, concerns raised by hospital staff were evaluated, in one instance including the involvement of the hospital’s human resources team. In each of these few instances, Kwiatkowski provided plausible explanations related either to medical issues he had previously made claims about, or to family crises.
Thomas Wharton, MD, FACC, medical director of the Cardiac Catheterization Unit at Exeter Hospital, now views Kwiatkowski as “the ultimate con artist and an extremely good cardiac technologist who pulled the wool over everyone’s eyes.”
A Boston malpractice lawyer filed a lawsuit Sunday evening against Triage Staffing, the Nebraska company that placed David Kwiatkowski at Exeter Hospital in April 2011. The hospital later hired the travelling technician full-time.
Attorney Domenic Paolini filed the suit on behalf of patient Robert O. Fowler of Seabrook, N.H. Fowler has tested positive for hepatitis C, Paolini said. The complaint alleges that the company was negligent in hiring and supervising Kwiatkowski. Paolini said he expects to file four more cases against Triage this week on behalf of patients he represents.
He also has asked hospital officials to meet with him. He said he would like Exeter to agree to a tiered payment structure that follows patients over time, providing certain payments based on the extent of treatment they require, if any.
“We blame the hospital, but the hospital is just a building,” Paolini said. “And we blame Mr. Kwiatkowksi. He did things he shouldn’t have done, and he truly is to blame. But we need to look eventually at the administration of the hospital.”
A recent New Hampshire Center for Public Policy Studies report commissioned by the state Department of Justice found that executive pay at 23 nonprofit hospitals in that state jumped 18 percent from 2006 to 2009, the report said. In tax year 2009, the most recent for which the hospital’s IRS filings are available, Exeter Chief Executive Kevin Callahan received total compensation of $740,927, slightly less than in the prior year. The 2009 total included a bonus of $161,136, the highest that year of any executive included in the report.
The report, which also looked at state filings, said Callahan’s total payment increased about 8 percent in 2010 to $763,615, the third-highest among those reported. Exeter is among the larger hospitals in New Hampshire by revenue and reported about $284 million in operating expenses for fiscal year 2010.