New Hep C Case Has Investigators Casting Wider Net

Aug 15, 2012

The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services announced Wednesday the confirmation of another patient infected with Hepatitis C while receiving treatment at Exeter Hospital.

This new case, confirmed by the Department of Public Health Services, brings the total number of infected up to 33. That includes David Kwiatkowski, the former hospital employee charged with stealing drugs and refilling the used syringes with saline solution. They were later reused on patients.

Investigators have been operating on the assumption that patients were infected during cardiac catheterization procedures in the lab where Kwiatkowski was assigned. However, the newly identified patient underwent this procedure before Kwiatkowski began working at Exeter Hospital. Yet the patient was discharged after Kwiatkowski had been hired.

These new developments have led the state epidemiologist to recommend testing certain Exeter Hospital employees.

That’s in addition to the recommended 3,300 patients who have been undergoing tests since last week. The Director of New Hampshire’s Public Health Laboratory, Dr. Christine Bean, says lab workers have already contributed long hours over the weekend testing samples from the clinics.

“We had people here at our state lab working ‘til midnight this past weekend to get samples prepared to be able to keep up with the testing and get the samples ready to run. So we had people working Friday evening, all day Saturday, Saturday evening and Sunday. And using some backup staff to do additional duties.”

At this point, they are not expanding the list for potential patients who may have been infected.