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As Risk Grew, Hospitals Turned a Blind Eye

Boston Globe (11/11/12) Patricia Wen

David Kwiatkowski, the radiology technician arrested for infecting at least 39 patients with hepatitis C at a hospital in New Hampshire, had for years prior moved from hospital to hospital stealing drugs to feed an addiction. All told Kwiatkowski worked at 19 different hospitals in eight states, and despite leaving evidence at some of the hospitals that he was descending into addiction, those employers potentially privy to his illicit dealings pushed him on without warning his future employers. In 2007, Kwiatkowski began taking on a series of jobs through temporary health staffing firms that specialize in sending health staff to different hospitals around the nation for jobs that typically last for about three months. Hospitals use these traveling health professionals to achieve greater staff flexibility and smaller permanent payrolls, but in doing so they lose much control over vetting the workers—a job which is left to the staffing firm.

In March 2008, in an act witnessed by a co-worker, Kwiatkowski allegedly entered an operating room at UPMC Presbyterian in Pennsylvania and stole a narcotic-filled syringe. Despite this evidence, the hospital and the staffing firm that hired him neglected to report the evidence to police or to the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists, which could have pulled his certification. The same staffing firm even found Kwiatkowski different employment in another state only six months after the incident.