CDC warns about loophole that allowed Hepatitis C outbreak

David Kwiatkowski
David Kwiatkowski

HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - A medical credentialing group said it did not have enough evidence two years ago to punish the technician now accused of infecting dozens of people with Hepatitis C. CDC officials now hope this case may be a wake up call that alerts hospitals and patients that this could be happening anywhere.

David Kwiatkowski is accused of passing Hepatitis C to dozens of people across the country. Authorities said he was injecting himself with syringes filled with the powerful painkiller, Fentanyl, then allowing them to be re-used on patients.

Prosecutors charged him in federal court last week for allegedly stealing drugs from New Hampshire's Exeter Hospital where he was working in a cardiology lab.

Court documents show Kwiatkowski caught the attention of his credentialing agency two years ago. A fellow employee allegedly found him passed out in a hospital bathroom.

The hospital fired him and he turned in his license, but then immediately went on to work in another state. They couldn't punish him further because there were no criminal charges filed. He passed a drug test the next day and moved away.

Experts said this is not uncommon.

"Oftentimes these folks are caught in a state or in a city and unfortunately, the right thing isn't done. The right reporting isn't done and the employee is either fired or goes ahead and quits and then moves on to the next place," said John Burke, President of the National Association of Drug Diversion Investigators.

CDC officials said this case is an eye-opener for hospitals and that they should all reconsider their drug security.

Kwiatkowski faces up to 20 years in prison if he is convicted.

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