July 27. 2012 8:25PM

2 hospitals fired man in hepatitis outbreak

Union Leader Correspondent

EXETER — The former Exeter Hospital medical technician accused in a hepatitis C outbreak was fired from a hospital in Pennsylvania in 2008, and again in 2010 while working at an Arizona hospital, where he was discovered unresponsive in a locker room with syringes and needles on him.

David Kwiatkowski, 33, was fired in 2010 after working as a radiation technician for 11 days at Arizona Heart Hospital in Phoenix, according to a hospital statement.

Two years earlier, he was let go from his contract job as a radiology technician at UPMC Presbyterian in Pittsburgh in 2008 after the hospital said he was found in an area where he wasn't assigned.

Kwiatkowski was arrested last week on federal charges in connection with the outbreak at Exeter Hospital. He is accused of infecting at least 30 patients by allegedly using syringes filled with the powerful painkiller fentanyl and then replacing them with another liquid and returning them to be used on unsuspecting patients.

Police found him intoxicated in a hotel room on July 13 in Marlborough, Mass., where they discovered prescription drugs and a suicide note that said, “Please call Kerry and let her know I passed away. Tell her I couldn't handle this stress anymore,” according to the MetroWest Daily News.

Kwiatkowski worked at as many as 12 hospitals in at least eight states in recent years, bouncing from one to another as a traveling technician hired for temporary jobs to fill staffing shortages. In addition to New Hampshire, Arizona and Pennsylvania, Kwiatkowski worked in Georgia, Kansas, Maryland, Michigan and New York.

Kwiatkowski's stint at Arizona Heart Hospital was cut short after the locker room incident.

“We have recently learned that on April 1, 2010, Mr. Kwiatkowski was reportedly found in the facility's men's locker room unresponsive and in possession of syringes and needles. Upon this discovery, hospital personnel following hospital protocol acted quickly to have him tested and treated in the emergency room, where a drug test was administered and he tested positive for the presence of both cocaine and marijuana,” the hospital said.

The Phoenix Police Department was notified, the hospital said, and his contract with the temporary staffing agency that placed him at the hospital, Phoenix-based SpringBoard Inc., was terminated on April 2, 2010.

In a statement, SpringBoard said he was fired when “it was brought to our attention that he exhibited unethical and unprofessional behavior.” His termination was also reported to the Arizona Department of Radiology and the American Registry for Radiologic Technology, SpringBoard said.

It's not known whether Kwiatkowski was ever charged in the incident.

The hospital was under different ownership at the time but said, “It appears from the records that hospital personnel acted swiftly and followed the appropriate protocols to ensure the Phoenix Police Department was notified as well as the staffing agency so that he would no longer be able to expose this facility's or other facility's employees and patients to further risk.”

The hospital is notifying patients who may have been exposed to hepatitis C in the short time Kwiatkowski worked there.

Kwiatkowski worked in a cardiac catheterization lab at Maryvale Hospital, also in Arizona, from March 9 to June 27, 2009, and patients there are also being asked to undergo tests.

According to a statement from SpringBoard, Kwiatkowski had “no issues that were ever brought to our attention” during his work in 2009, so when he reapplied for more work through SpringBoard in 2010, he was hired. Kwiatkowski was no longer eligible for rehire with SpringBoard after the locker room incident.

Kwiatkowski worked for a different staffing company when he arrived at UPMC Presbyterian in Pennsylvania as a contract employee in March 2008. He was fired in May that year after being found in an area of the hospital where he was not assigned, and the hospital notified his employer, Maxim Staffing Solutions, the hospital said.

Hospital spokesman Gloria Kreps said the hospital is still trying to identify patients who may have come into contact with Kwiatkowski.