Medical technicians would have to register with the state under a bill passed Wednesday by the New Hampshire House. The measure was prompted by an outbreak of Hepatitis C at Exeter Hospital, where an employee reused needles on patients resulting in 32 infections. The employee had been accused of drug diversion at similar hospitals but continued to gain employment.
The New Hampshire House has passed a drug testing bill inspired by the hepatitis C outbreak at Exeter Hospital.
The bill, approved 289 to 48 by the House on Wednesday, would require hospitals to set up policies to prevent misuse of drugs by employees to maintain their licenses. It would also require they test employees for drugs if there was a reasonable suspicion of drug use.
The criminal case of a traveling medical technician who infected dozens of patients with hepatitis C through tainted syringes is pushing individual hospitals, state lawmakers and federal officials to close the loopholes he exploited.
Although new cases of Hepatitis-C have drastically decreased in the United States since peaking in the 1980’s, the blood-borne disease which primarily attacks and destroys the liver, kills more Americans annually than AIDS.
Andrew Pollack covers business and biotechnology for the New York Times. We read his article “Hepatitis-C, a Silent Killer, Meets Its Match,” in which Pollack describes a new series of treatments about to enter the market that could effectively do the impossible: wipe out Hep C.
David Kwiatkowski entered the federal courtroom in shackles, wearing a Strafford County Department of Corrections jumpsuit. The 34-year defendant looked heavier than last July, when he was arrested on 14 federal charges, including tampering with a consumer product and obtaining a controlled substance by fraud.
When asked by the judge why he changed his plea, the clean shaven Kwiatkowski said, “Because I’m guilty.”
A former hospital employee charged with spreading Hepatitis C in New Hampshire and seven other states is pleading guilty to federal charges.
34-year old David Kwiatkowski was arrested last July for stealing syringes filled with fentanyl, a powerful pain medication. Officials say he would inject himself and then reuse the needles on patients inside Exeter Hospital, infecting at least 32 people with Hepatitis C.
Facing 14 federal charges including tampering with a consumer product and illegally obtaining controlled substances, Kwiatkowski is changing his plea to guilty.
State public health officials say another person has tested positive for Hepatitis C stemming from last year’s outbreak at Exeter Hospital.
That brings the total number to 33.
A former hospital employee was arrested last July in connection with the spread of the virus inside the cardiac catheterization lab. Prosecutors say David Kwiatkowski reused syringes on patients after injecting himself with powerful pain killers.
Dr. Jose Montero, the state’s public health director, says it appears this latest case, though, is from sexual contact.
State lawmakers are working on a measure to create a Registry Board for Medical Technicians. The action comes in the wake of last summer’s outbreak of Hepatitis C at Exeter Hospital that left 32 patients infected.
David Kwiatkowski, a traveling medical technician, allegedly injected himself with painkillers before reusing syringes on patients, transmitting the Hepatitis C virus.
Representative Tim Copeland is proposing a bill to create an oversight board for all med techs in the state.
Federal prosecutors say it could take a year or more before a trial in the Hepatitis C outbreak case begins. On Wednesday, a grand jury indicted 33-year old David Kwiatkowski on 14 charges, including tampering with a consumer product.
The former Exeter Hospital employee is accused of stealing syringes of a powerful pain medication, injecting himself, and then reusing the needles on patients.
U.S. Attorney John Kacavas says the FBI and members of law enforcement continue to investigate the case.
In a press conference at Exeter Hospital today, lawyers called the state’s request for broad access to medical records a government overreach. The state continues to investigate the Hepatitis C outbreak.
In August, Exeter Hospital filed a protective order in Merrimack Superior Court. It’s seeking to block the state’s request for broad access to patient medical records.