PHOENIX -- Hospital patients around the valley could have been exposed to hepatitis C by a medical technician.
David Kwiatkowski is accused of infecting dozens of people with needles and syringes he used in New Hampshire after a stint in Arizona in 2009 and 2010.
In documents obtained by 3TV from Arizona Radiation Regulatory Agency, Kwiatkowski was fired from Arizona Heart Hospital after one of his colleagues found him passed out in a bathroom.
The employee said in a written letter to the hospital dated April 1, 2010 “…I looked in the toilet and spotted a 5cc syringe and a needle floating in the water. I asked if he (Kwiatkowski) was a diabetic after seeing the needle. I then noticed the label on the syringe. The label was a blue fentanyl label.”
Fentanyl is a fast-acting pain reliever that's more potent than morphine.
“I don't know if anyone knows if he was contagious at the time he was here or not,” said Aubrey Godwin, the director of Arizona Radiation Regulatory Agency.
Godwin said in 2010 a spokesperson for the hospital told his agency the medical technician was fired due to a drug incident.
When Godwin's agency tried investigating, Kwiatkowski had moved out of Arizona, so the investigation was dropped.
I asked Godwin if he asked Kwiatkowski to come back to Arizona.
“I was not the one that talked on it," he answerer. "I don't know if was asked; it may have been.”
The medical technician also surrendered his state radiological certificate following the incident in 2010, so Godwin said there was really no need to investigate.
The director can't recall if the national radiation registry was notified.
“If we had had the evidence they would have been contacted. But to spread a rumor without evidence to back it up I think it would have been a little foolhardy on our part,” Godwin said.
Godwin also said it’s up to the hospital across the country to look into the technician’s background.
A spokesperson for the Arizona Heart Hospital sent us this statement:
“Since learning that a radiation tech who had a brief assignment (March 22, 2010 – April 2, 2010 – 11 days) in the cardiac cath lab at the Arizona Heart Hospital may have exposed patients to hepatitis C, our primary focus has been on notifying these patients. The safety and health of patients is our utmost concern and has and will continue to be our top priority. We are continuing to ensure that these patients are notified and tested in a timely fashion. After closely reviewing patient records in partnership with the Arizona Department of Health Services, the hospitals are reporting the following: 157 potentially exposed patients at Arizona Heart Hospital and 132 potentially exposed patients at Maryvale Hospital. Certified letters were mailed to all identified patients on Monday, July 30."
"Because the facility was under prior ownership at the time David Kwiatkowski was on temporary assignment, new details have begun to emerge about what transpired during his brief time at the facility.
"We have recently learned that on April 1, 2010 Mr. Kwiatkowski was reportedly found in the facility’s men’s locker room unresponsive and in possession of syringes and needles. Upon this discovery, hospital personnel following hospital protocol acted quickly to have him tested and treated in the emergency room where a drug test was administered and he tested positive for the presence of both cocaine and marijuana. The Phoenix Police Department was then contacted and his contract with the temporary staffing agency was immediately terminated on April 2, 2010.
"Although the hospital was under different ownership at the time, it appears from the records that hospital personnel acted swiftly and followed the appropriate protocols to ensure the Phoenix Police Department was notified as well as the staffing agency so that he would no longer be a able to expose this facility’s or other facility’s employees and patients to further risk.
"David Kwiatkowski was not arrested.
"The Arizona Heart Hospital reported the April 1, 2010 incident to SpringBoard, the staffing agency that had placed David Kwiatkowski at the Hospital. SpringBoard then reported David Kwiatkowski to the Arizona Radiation Regulatory Agency (ARRA). SpringBoard confirms that they also reported him to the national board, The American Registry of Radiologic Technologists. “
Hepatitis C is a viral disease. It leads to swelling of the liver and according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, it's one of most common causes of chronic liver disease.