Healthcare Staffing Report: Aug. 22, 2013

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Healthcare traveler pleads guilty in hepatitis case

A former healthcare traveler accused of infecting numerous patients in several states with hepatitis C pleaded guilty Aug. 14 to 14 criminal counts, the U.S. Attorney's Office reported. The traveler, David Kwiatkowski, was caught while working at Exeter Hospital in Exeter, N.H.

Kwiatkowski told investigators he would take a syringe of fentanyl, a controlled substance, and inject himself, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. He would then replace the fentanyl with saline for use in a patients. Kwiatkowski knew he was infected with hepatitis C all the while.

Kwiatkowski faces a sentence of between 30 and 40 years under the plea agreement. His sentencing has recently been rescheduled to Dec. 2.

The defendant began working as a traveler in November 2007. He ultimately took a temporary position at Exeter Hospital in April 2011. He was later hired full-time and worked in the cardiac catheterization lab.

Kwiatkowski’s activity came to light after Exeter Hospital identified several unexplained cases involving hepatitis C in May 2012, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. An investigation later found that Kwiatkowski was the source of the infection, according to court records.

The defendant is from Michigan but worked at multiple healthcare facilities in several states. He began working as a traveler in 2007, and worked in multiple states.

As part of his plea agreement, Kwiatkowski admitted to swapping syringes at several other hospitals including Hays Medical Center in Kansas and Johns Hopkins University Hospital in Maryland.

A public health investigation of this Hepatitis C outbreak found that at least 32 patients at Exeter Hospital were infected with hepatitis C as well as six patients at Hays Medical Center, six patients at Johns Hopkins and one patient at the VA Medical Center in Baltimore.

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