Hospital Sues Health Agency Over Hepatitis C Outbreak

Exeter Hospital Sues Health Agency Due to Hep C Outbreak

Exeter Hospital has filed another lawsuit in hopes of getting others to pay for settlements it reached after a traveling medical technician infected patients with hepatitis C.

David Kwiatkowski is serving 39 years in prison for stealing painkillers and replacing them with saline-filled syringes tainted with his blood. Despite being fired numerous times over drug allegations, he had worked as a cardiac technologist in seven states before being hired in New Hampshire in 2011. Since his arrest in 2012, 46 people in four states have been diagnosed with the same strain of the hepatitis C virus he carries.

In addition to settling dozens of lawsuits with infected patients, Exeter Hospital also paid settlements to 188 people who were not infected, but claimed some harm from the outbreak. The hospital's lawsuit against a medical staffing agency and an accreditation organization is scheduled for trial next year. Earlier this month, it filed a new lawsuit against a company that connects hospitals to staffing agencies.

The hospital claims that the American HealthCare Services Association knew or should have known that Kwiatkowski was unfit for continued employment and had a duty to properly screen, supervise and investigate his drug theft and use. The lawsuit seeks to force the association to help pay for the settlements with those who tested negative for hepatitis C, a blood-borne virus that can cause liver disease and chronic health problems, but alleged that they suffered physical or emotional injury after learning of their potential infection, having to undergo the tests and having to wait for days or weeks for the results.

A spokesman for the association did not return a call seeking comment.

Besides New Hampshire, the other infected patients were in Maryland, Pennsylvania and Kansas, where prosecutors said one of them later died. Kwiatkowski also worked in Michigan, Arizona, New York and Georgia.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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