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September 04. 2014 8:38PM

Staffing agency sued by Exeter Hospital for Hepatitis C outbreak has case dismissed

BRENTWOOD — One of three staffing agencies Exeter Hospital sued in the wake of the Hepatitis C outbreak caused by a traveling cardiac catheterization technician had their cases dismissed by a judge.

The lawsuit by Exeter Hospital contends that the staffing agencies should bear some of the cost of settlements paid to the 32 patients infected with the virus by the former technician, David Kwiatsowski.

A federal judge decided on Thursday that lawyers for Exeter Hospital showed no evidence that one of the agencies, Maxim Healthcare Service Inc., had any knowledge that Kwiatsowski was dismissed from a Maryland hospital in 2008 for stealing drugs and hypodermic needles.

The hospital’s lawsuit also did not claim that Maxim knew or should have known that Kwiatsowski had Hepatitis C, according to the court order. U.S. Judge Steven McAuliffe also rejected Exeter Hospital’s request to put a temporary halt to its lawsuit against the staffing agencies so it could settle the remaining civil lawsuits filed by former patients in Rockingham County Superior Court. The hospital argued that it should be able to settle the remaining lawsuits and tabulate the total amount of damages before pursuing funds from the staffing agencies.

Between 2003 and 2007, Kwiatsowski was fired by or resigned from four Michigan health facilities, according to the judge’s order. Three of those four departures allegedly came amid investigations into his unlawful use of controlled drugs.

Exeter Hospital became aware that three former patients tested positive for Hepatitis C in 2012. More than 3,000 former patients were tested for the virus.

Kwiatkowski, 34, was sentenced in December after pleading guilty to charges that he infected patients at Exeter Hospital between April 2011 and May 2012 through drug diversion. He spread Hepatitis C to unwitting hospital patients by injecting himself with the painkiller fentanyl and then allowed the dirty needles to be used by patients.

The remaining two staffing agencies: American Registry of Radiologic Technologists and American HealthCare Services Association remain part of the lawsuit filed by Exeter Hospital.

The hospital is also suing Kwiatsowski.

Jkimble@newstote.com


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