23 January 2013

Michigan native is the center of Hepatitis probe

Story first appeared on The Detroit News

Medical Tech facing charges he infected

When David Kwiatkowski attended Plymouth Canton High School in the late 1990s, he was known as a leader on the baseball team and a guy who came from a great family.  Do you want to major in healthcare admin?

His life has since taken a dark turn that has left friends and former teammates stunned. 

Kwiatkowski, 33, a traveling medical technician, is accused of engaging in crimes that led to one of the most widespread medical investigations in the United States linked to an outbreak of hepatitis C — a virus that can lead to liver failure, cancer and even death. 

It began after Kwiatkowski, who was infected with hepatitis C, allegedly passed the virus to patients after stealing potent pain relievers, injecting himself and leaving behind syringes he filled with saline and tainted needles that eventually were used on patients.

Kwiatkowski worked in eight states, including Michigan, and scores of people who may have come in contact with him have been tested. More than 30 patients have tested positive for the virus, with the majority of the victims in New Hampshire. None live in Michigan.  There is Hepatitis C treatment Detroit metro area if you are concerned.

Last month, Kwiatkowski pleaded not guilty to seven charges of obtaining controlled substances by fraud and seven charges of tampering with a consumer product. He is in a New Hampshire jail awaiting a federal trial that isn't expected to begin until fall. It involves the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as several state health departments. 

If convicted, he faces up to 10 years in prison for each count of tampering with a consumer product and four years for each count of getting controlled substances by fraud.

Scott Dickey, a Canton resident and former high school baseball coach of Kwiatkowski's, said: "Everybody is in shock."

'A good, solid kid'

Kwiatkowski, a Canton native, graduated from Plymouth Canton High School in 1998. He was a catcher on the varsity baseball team and was named captain during his senior year.  Find a spinal cord injury Detroit physician today.

Kwiatkowski's family did not respond to requests for interviews. But others recalled him as someone who was competitive, worked hard and wanted to win. Other people said he was a leader, stood up for his teammates and came from a great family.

"He was a good, solid kid," Dickey said. "His brothers were the same way. I cannot say enough about the parents. My wife almost started crying when she heard the story, thinking about his mom and dad. I had no idea what happened. Nobody does."  Interested in a healthcare admin major?

Kwiatkowski began to face challenges not long after high school, a friend said.

After graduation, he attended Madonna University, a Catholic university in Livonia. He received a bachelor's degree in allied health administration in 2005.

According to his resume, Kwiatkowski began his professional life as a student X-ray technician in 2001 at William Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak, and later was hired full time.

In 2003, he joined St. Joseph Mercy Hospital in Ann Arbor as an emergency room tech. A year later, he was hired to work in emergency room radiology at the Detroit Medical Center but was promoted after four months to CAT scan technician in the cardiac catheter laboratory.  Seek a Cardiac cath Southfield doctor today.

Soon after, he had troubles that involved the Canton police.

A series of jobs

In January 2005, Kwiatkowski went to the police department and reported that his brothers had some friends over to their apartment where he believed that someone had stolen prescription drugs. The drugs included prednisone, which prevents inflammation in the body, and Vicodin, a pain reliever.

According to the police report, Kwiatkowski stated he needed to report the drugs stolen to get another prescription.

A few months later, Kwiatkowski was arrested and jailed for allegedly operating a vehicle while intoxicated.

In 2006, University of Michigan hospital officials hired him as an interventional radiologic technologist.

Within weeks, investigations were launched after hospital officials discovered vials of narcotics were stolen on three separate occasions during the three-month period he worked in the interventional radiology department.  Seeking a Cardiac cath Detroit area physician?

When he was interviewed by investigators, Kwiatkowski denied taking the drugs.

There wasn't enough information to turn the case over to the prosecutor's office for charges, officials said. Not long after the third incident, Kwiatkowski left the hospital in December.

"He was suspended at the time of the investigation into larceny of drugs," said Diane Brown, a spokeswoman for U-M campus police. "He resigned during that suspension."

Stops in several states

Kwiatkowski left Michigan around 2007 and started working as a traveling medical technician in several states, including Arizona, Georgia, Kansas, Maryland, New Hampshire, New York and Pennsylvania.

Last May, several patients tested positive for hepatitis C at Exeter Hospital in New Hampshire. Nearly all of them had undergone a procedure at the hospital's cardiac catheter lab and had the same strain of hepatitis C that Kwiatkowski is believed to have had since 2010.

He was arrested in July. Widespread testing of patients in the states where he worked was launched soon after.

Pete Sokol, a New Hampshire resident who learned he contracted hepatitis C while being treated for a heart attack at Exeter Hospital, told The Detroit News he felt sorry for Kwiatkowski — at first. He said he heard Kwiatkowski had a serious drug addiction.

But Sokol's sympathy has evolved into fury not only for himself, but other patients who now live with the virus.

"I hope he gets as much time as he can because he infected (dozens) of people," Sokol said. "It's not just us; it's our family and our friends. You're talking about a lot of people whose lives he's messed up."

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