Tech accused of infecting NH patients with hepatitis C worked at Phoenix hospitals

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by Jennifer Thomas

Video report by Christine LaCroix

Posted on July 25, 2012 at 1:33 PM

Updated Friday, Jul 27 at 4:04 PM

PHOENIX -- A healthcare technician accused of infecting at least 30 people with hepatitis C while working at a New Hampshire hospital previously worked in two Phoenix hospitals, officials said Wednesday.

The Arizona Department of Health Services and Maricopa County Department of Public Health are assisting the Arizona Heart Hospital and Maryvale Hospital to identify and notify patients who may have come in contact with David Matthew Kwiatkowski while he worked at the facilities.

Kwiatkowski spent time working in Arizona through a temporary staffing agency, according to health officials.

Patients who received care in the cardiac catheterization labs at Maryvale Hospital from March 9, 2009, to June 27, 2009, or at the Arizona Heart Hospital from March 22, 2010, to April 2, 2010, are being contacted by mail to recommend they undergo confidential hepatitis C testing.

"To be clear, we do not know and may never know if this individual was positive for hepatitis C while working in Arizona in 2009 and 2010," said Dr. Bob England, director of Maricopa County Public Health. "We understand and recognize how this situation may cause concern among patients, which is why, as a precaution, our affected hospitals are making every effort to make sure patients who could have been exposed are notified and offered testing."

At this time, the potentially exposed patient count at Maryvale Hospital is approximately 132 and is less than 157 at Arizona Heart Hospital.

Both hospitals will start sending out certified letters by July 30 and plan to have the mailing completed by mid-week.

Hepatitis C testing will be offered and available at no charge to these patients at various laboratory locations over the next several weeks.

Hepatitis C is a virus that is passed through blood and affects the liver. Only about one in five persons who become infected with hepatitis C virus initially becomes ill, with symptoms ranging from a mild illness to more severe disease with nausea, vomiting and yellow eyes and skin. Most people with hepatitis C virus develop a chronic infection, which is a serious disease that can cause long-term health problems. There is no vaccine against hepatitis C virus.

It is estimated that 1.6 percent of the U.S. population has been infected with hepatitis C.

For additional information on hepatitis C, visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's website at www.cdc.gov. For more information on this investigation, visit www.azdhs.gov. If you received care at one of the hospitals during the specified dates and did not receive a letter from the hospital or you have been notified as potentially being at risk, call the information line at 602-674-6844.
 

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