David Kwiatkowski will receive 39 years in prison for planning and executing a outbreak of Hepatitis C in a New Hampshire Hospital. Kwiatkowski was found guilty of seven counts of “tampering with a consumer product” and seven more counts of “obtaining controlled substances by fraud.” Kwiatkowski infected thirty patients at Exeter Hospital by implementing a plan of grossly disturbing misconduct.
Kwiatkowski had worked as a traveling medical technician in hospitals across the country, from Arizona to New York. He was fired from an Arizona hospital in 2010 when a coworker found him passed out on the floor of the men’s room with an empty syringe nearby floating in the toilet.
Kwiatkowski was immediately fired and also forced to give up his radiology technologist license. Another hospital, UPMC Presbyterian, which is in Pittsburgh, has reported that he worked at their hospital as well but was fired after a coworker witnessed him taking syringes that contained morphine and fentanyl.
Then in 2011 Kwiatkowski began working at Exeter. He had known he had Hepatitis C for ten months by this time.
According to Concord, New Hampshire’s U.S. attorney’s office Kwiatkowski stole syringes, then injected himself with them, filled the syringes that had his Hepatitis C with saline, and set them up to be used in the hospital’s medical procedures. Those who were injected with these syringes consequently were exposed to hepatitis C.
The U.S. attorney’s office added that Kwiatkowski caused patients to receive these tainted amounts of saline, “instead of receiving the prescribed dose of fentanyl.”
An investigator in the case reports that Kwiatkowski said he was “going to kill a lot of people out of this.”
Kwiatkowski did not kill any patients but he did cause more than 45 of them to become terribly sick with Hepatitis C, which can be fatal. At his trial many of the patients he infected were there to make their presence felt.
One of the patients who got sick, Linda Ficken, 71, told him, “Rest assured, I will haunt you until the day I die.” Flicken said that she was in pain from the disease but that the worse part occurred when she found out that her brother had leukemia and would need a transplant of stem cells. If she cannot save her brother, and he should die, she says that would be the biggest blow.
Prosecutors sought a 40 year sentence for Kowiatkowski, but the judge shortened it to 39 telling the defendant he did so to show him that people are capable of mercy and compassion.
Kwiatkowski said at his trial that, “There’s no excuse for what I’ve done. I know the pain and suffering I’ve caused.”
His defense was seeking a 30 year sentence because of his emotional and drug abuse problems. They said his emotional disturbances and his drug abuse clouded his judgement.
Kwiatkowski infected 32 patients at Exeter, seven more in Maryland, six from time in Kansas and one from Pennsylvania.
Kwiatkowski is 34 years old now so it is likely that he will eventually get out of prison. The 45 people he infected is one of the largest outbreaks of this disease in the United States in recent years and has now been determined to be the result of his gross misconduct.
By Nick Manai