Former Exeter Hospital worker to plead guilty in hepatitis case
EXETER — The former medical technician accused of infecting patients at Exeter Hospital with hepatitis C is expected to plead guilty in federal court on Wednesday.
Under an agreement filed Monday in U.S. District Court, David Kwiatkowski will serve 30 to 40 years in prison after he pleads guilty to seven counts of tampering with a consumer product and seven counts of obtaining controlled substances by fraud.
Kwiatkowski, formerly of Exeter, was labeled a "serial infector" by prosecutors after he allegedly infected 32 former patients at Exeter Hospital through drug diversion.
More than a dozen patients infected in Kansas and Maryland were also linked to Kwiatkowski when he worked at hospitals there, according to prosecutors.
Kwiatkowski, who admitted that he was diagnosed with hepatitis C in 2010, worked at as many as 18 hospitals around the country between 2003 and 2012, and was fired from several before he arrived at Exeter Hospital as a temporary technician in April 2011. He was hired as a full-time technician in the cardiac catheterization lab in the fall of 2011.
"The defendant's coworkers noticed that the defendant sometimes exhibited unusual behavior, including sweating, having bloodshot eyes, leaving procedures before they were completed, and telling false stories," the plea agreement said.
During interviews with law enforcement officials, Kwiatkowski admitted that while working at Exeter Hospital he would "swap out" the drug fentanyl by taking a syringe of the drug and replacing it with a syringe of saline. He would inject the drug and then refill the syringe with saline to be used on unsuspecting patients.
In an interview, he told investigators, "...I'm going to kill a lot of people out of this,'" according to the plea agreement.
He admitted to diverting drugs at other hospitals in other states as well.
The plea agreement, if accepted by the court, will satisfy his federal criminal liability in New Hampshire, Kansas, Maryland and Georgia.
Kwiatkowski was fired from Exeter Hospital after the hospital uncovered the hepatitis C outbreak in May 2012. Kwiatkowski was employed at several health care facilities in Michigan between 2003 and 2007. He was fired from a St. Joseph Mercy Health System in 2004 after testing positive for controlled drugs, the plea agreement said. He was fired from William Beaumont Hospital in 2004 for "gross misconduct" and he resigned from a position at the University of Michigan Hospital in 2006 during an investigation into missing drugs, including fentanyl.
Kwiatkowski resigned from a position at Michigan's Oakwood Annapolis Hospital after he was suspended pending an investigation of potential controlled substance abuse, according to the plea deal.
Between 2007 and 2011, he worked as a traveling technician in Arizona, Georgia, Kansas, Maryland, New Hampshire, New York and Pennsylvania.
In May 2008, Kwiatkowski was terminated from a placement at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center after he was caught diverting the drug fentanyl. But less than two weeks later, he got a job at the VA Medical Center in Maryland where he worked until November 2008.
He worked at Johns Hopkins University Hospital in Maryland between July 2009 and January 2010, during which time at least six patients became infected with his strain of hepatitis C, according tothe plea agreement.
Kwiatkowski moved on to the Arizona Heart Hospital in March 2010 but was let go after he was found unresponsive in a restroom just a month later. A needle and syringe labeled "fentanyl" were seen by witnesses floating in a toilet. Drug testing showed he had marijuana and cocane in his system, according to the agreement.
In May 2010, he began working at Hays Medical Center in Kansas. While working there, at least six patients were infected.