A class-action lawsuit has been filed against a Columbia-based medical staffing agency claiming it acted negligently in 2008 by hiring and placing a medical technician who allegedly went on to expose the plaintiffs to hepatitis C.
The lawsuit also says the firm and UPMC Presbyterian, the Pittsburgh hospital where the technician allegedly came in contact with the plaintiffs, knew he had put patients at risk by stealing narcotics but never informed patients or authorities until he was arrested in connection with a hepatitis C outbreak in New Hampshire this year.
The lawsuit against Maxim Staffing Solutions and UPMC was filed this week in the Court of Common Pleas in Allegheny County in Pennsylvania by the estate of a man who died after being treated at UPMC, his wife and 15 others, including six couples.
Officials with UPMC and Maxim could not be immediately reached for comment.
It is the second lawsuit against Maxim and UPMC over David Kwiatkowski's employment there as a technician and the spread of hepatitis C.
It says Kwiatkowski was caught stealing drugs at UPMC but never reported to authorities, allowing him to continue working at hospitals throughout the country.
Kwiatkowski was arrested this summer in a federal case linking him to a hepatitis C outbreak believed to have been caused by contaminated syringes. Hospitals across the country where Kwiatkowski has worked, including four in Maryland, have launched investigations and begun testing patients who had possible contact with him.
At one time during his employment at UPMC between March and May 2008, the lawsuit alleges, Kwiatkowski was observed entering an operating room, putting a syringe of the pain killer Fentanyl in his pants and replacing it with another syringe containing a different liquid.
The lawsuit says UPMC personnel confronted Kwiatkowski, found empty Fentanyl syringes on him and found another empty syringe in his locker. It says Kwiatkowski was then drug tested and found to have Fentanyl and opiates in his system.
The lawsuit says Kwiatkowski was then fired, but neither UPMC nor Maxim reported the incident to local, state or federal government or law enforcement agencies.
They also failed to alert patients at the hospital or their family members, including those listed as plaintiffs, the lawsuit says. Some of the plaintiffs, but not all, have tested positive for hepatitis C.
The other lawsuit against Maxim and UPMC was filed in September by Kansas resident Linda Ficken and her husband, William. It claims Linda Ficken contracted hepatitis C from Kwiatkowski at Hays Medical Center in Kansas, where Kwiatkowski went on to work after his stint at UPMC.
After leaving UPMC Presbyterian, Kwiatkowski worked at 10 hospitals in eight states from 2008 to 2012. In Maryland, Kwiatkowski worked at the Baltimore VA Medical Center from May 2008 to November 2008; Southern Maryland Hospital from December 2008 to February 2009; Johns Hopkins Hospital from July 2009 to January 2010; and Maryland General Hospital from January 2010 to March 2010.
All are testing patients exposed to Kwiatkowski for hepatitis C.
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