By staff writers

July 25, 2012 -- State health authorities in New Hampshire are extending a hepatitis C testing program in the wake of revelations that a traveling cardiac cath lab technologist may have infected patients with the disease after allegedly diverting fentanyl from the lab for his own use.

The New Hampshire Division of Public Health Services (DPHS) originally offered hepatitis C testing to patients who had received procedures in the cardiac cath lab at Exeter Hospital, where former employee David Kwiatkowski worked. Kwiatkowski was arrested in Massachusetts on July 20 and charged with infecting patients with hepatitis C after he allegedly stole syringes containing fentanyl and then replaced the dirty needles with saline solution.

On July 24, DPHS announced that it would expand the testing program to include patients who received care in the hospital's main operating room (OR) (excluding the outpatient surgery center) and intensive care unit (ICU) from April 2011 to May 2012, when Kwiatkowski worked at the facility.

Kwiatkowski occasionally visited Exeter's OR and ICU as part of his routine duties to transport patients, Exeter said. While it's unlikely that anyone outside of the cath lab was infected with a hepatitis C strain genetically linked to Kwiatkowski, Exeter has agreed to support DPHS in offering the expanded testing to patients, the hospital said.

Copyright © 2012

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