(EXETER, N.H.) — Testing of more than 3,000 people who may have been infected with hepatitis C at a New Hampshire by an alleged “serial infector” was canceled this weekend, leaving some former patients scared and angry.
Health officials cancelled the weekend testing clinic, even though they asked the former patients at Exeter Hospital to get tested, because they said the logistics were too much.
David Kwiatkowski, a former lab technician at Exeter Hospital, was indicted last week for allegedly infecting 31 people with hepatitis C at that hospital, but might have infected thousands of patients in at least 13 hospitals where he has worked.
Kwiatkowski had allegedly been stealing syringes of the anesthetic Fentanyl intended for patients, injecting his own arm and then refilling those empty syringes with another liquid-like saline, according to a statement from the United States Attorney’s Office in New Hampshire.
Since Kwiatkowski tested positive for hepatitis C in June 2010, he passed it on to the hospital patients who were injected with his used, saline-filled syringes, according to the affidavit.
“If he knew that he was infected and he put those needles back on the shelf, that is the definition of evil,” Dr. Richard Besser, ABC News’ Chief Health and Medical Editor, told Good Morning America. “Anyone who was in those hospitals when he was working there is potentially at risk. We’re talking tens of thousands of people.”
Kwiatskowski, 32, was a temporary employee at Exeter Hospital who has worked in at least eight hospitals in 13 states, Besser said.
Exeter Hospital issued a press release this week, indicating that the state Department of Health and Human Services and its Division of Public Health Services have decided to expand hepatitis C testing to anyone who was a patient in one of the hospital operating rooms or the intensive care unit. Government health officials are urging about 6,000 patients to get tested in Exeter Hospital alone, according to the release.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Danica Lawrence, Fox 13 Utah
Dora Scheidell, KSTU
Natalia Hepworth, EastIdahoNews.com
Virginia Anderson, Kaiser Health News