By Brian Casey, AuntMinnie.com staff writer

June 21, 2018 -- A Pennsylvania state court has allowed a lawsuit to move ahead against the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC), charging that the facility should have done more to prevent radiologic technologist (RT) David Kwiatkowski from infecting patients with hepatitis C as he diverted fentanyl for his own use.

Kwiatkowski was sentenced to 39 years in prison in 2013 for using his position as a traveling technologist to steal fentanyl for his own use. He contracted hepatitis C, which he then passed on to dozens of patients who were exposed to the virus through infected needles.

The case has sparked multiple civil lawsuits against hospitals where Kwiatkowksi worked, as well as against temporary staffing firms and the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT), charging that the groups should have done more to prevent Kwiatkowski from working as a technologist after previous employers fired him for drug diversion.

In the UPMC case, a majority of judges on the state appellate court on June 19 found that UPMC should have reported that the facility fired Kwiatkowski in 2008 after discovering him with three empty fentanyl syringes, according to an article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. A complaint in the case stated that Kwiatkowski was fired from UPMC, but neither the hospital nor a staffing agency reported him to law enforcement. He then went on to additional RT jobs and infected more patients.

The article quoted one of the judges as saying that "seasoned healthcare providers" could have expected that Kwiatkowski would repeat his behavior elsewhere, creating a serious risk of transmitting disease. The court noted that if Kwiatkowski's behavior had been reported to authorities, his career would have ended and he wouldn't have had the access to controlled substances.

The court also found, however, that the staffing agency in the case was under no obligation to report his behavior.

Five patients and their families have filed suit against UPMC and Maxim Healthcare Services, the staffing agency that hired Kwiatkowski to work at UPMC, according to the article.


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