Hospital sues hep C 'serial infector' for settlement reimbursement

A New Hampshire hospital is suing David Kwiatkowski--the technician who pleaded guilty to infecting 32 patients with hepatitis C last year in the hospital's cardiac catheterization lab--as well as the agencies that placed him there, to recoup a portion of the money it is paying out in patient settlements.

Exeter Hospital filed a lawsuit at Rockingham Superior Court in Brentwood, N.H., against Kwiatkowski--a traveling technician who injected himself with fentanyl then used the tainted syringes to treat patients--along with Maxim Healthcare Inc., the American Registry of Radiological Technologists, American HealthCare Services Association LLC and Triage Staffing Inc., the organizations that played some role in placing Kwiatkowski at Exeter, according to Seacoastonline.

The hospital claims the other organizations and Kwiatkowski haven't had an equal share of the financial burden from its settlement, with more than a dozen patients infected with the disease, the article states. Exeter Hospital points out that the technician was terminated from several other hospitals for suspected controlled drug use, but the agencies still placed him in hospitals in other states, Seacoastonline reported.

"The amount paid by the hospital to settle the cases and discharge the common liability of the non-contributing defendants was disproportionate to Exeter Hospital's actual responsibility for the hepatitis C outbreak," the suit states, according to Seacoastonline.

Kwiatkowski pleaded guilty to 14 counts of federal drug theft and tampering charges, and is set to be sentenced in federal court Dec. 2, where he could get up to 40 years in prison, FierceHealthcare previously reported. He admitted to stealing painkiller syringes and replacing them with saline tainted with his blood, exposing hundreds of patients at 18 hospitals across the country since 2002.

"Exeter Hospital has been working diligently to assist patients to obtain the care and support they need without waiting for a resolution of their claims at a future trial," the hospital said in a statement to Seacoastonline. "The hospital has settled a number of civil claims and is seeking reimbursement from those whose actions, including failing to report David Kwiatkowski for improper conduct, enabled him to secure employment in N.H. Such failures contributed significantly to the harm suffered by these patients."

In a similar case from this spring, after a jury found UnitedHealth negligent for not properly overseeing a doctor who infected two patients with hepatitis C and ordered it to pay $24 million in damages, it said the insurer must pay an additional $500 million in punitive damages, FierceHealthcare previously reported.

To learn more:
- here's the article

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