By staff writers

September 10, 2012 -- UPMC health system and two medical staffing agencies have been sued by a Kansas woman who claims she was infected with hepatitis C because the defendants failed to notify authorities that traveling radiologic technologist David Kwiatkowski had been fired in 2008 for allegedly stealing drugs from the hospital.

Linda Ficken and her husband William Ficken filed the lawsuit on August 30 in a Pennsylvania state court against UPMC Presbyterian, as well as staffing agencies Maxim Staffing Solutions and Medical Solutions. Maxim employed Kwiatkowski from March to May of 2008, placing him at UPMC, while Medical Solutions employed him in 2010, placing him at a Kansas hospital that treated Ficken.

The complaint filed in the case charges that on May 7, 2008, a UPMC hospital employee saw Kwiatkowski "enter an operating room, lift his shirt, put a syringe in his pants, and exit the room." UPMC later determined that a syringe containing fentanyl was missing and was replaced with a different liquid.

UPMC personnel confronted Kwiatkowski and found three empty syringes with fentanyl labels on him, and an empty morphine syringe in his locker. Fentanyl and morphine opiates were also found in his urine, the complaint states.

The complaint goes on to state that as a result of the incident, Kwiatkowski was no longer allowed to work at UPMC, but neither the hospital nor Maxim reported him to state or federal authorities or law enforcement.

As a traveling technologist, Kwiatkowski then went on to work at multiple facilities across the U.S., including hospitals in Maryland, Arizona, Pennsylvania, and Kansas. He began working at Hays Medical Center in Kansas on May 24, 2010, shortly before Ficken was seen at the hospital's cardiac catheterization lab. Ficken tested positive for hepatitis C in July and again in August of 2012, shortly after Kwiatkowski was arrested for drug theft after a stint at Exeter Hospital in New Hampshire.

The complaint charges UPMC with failing to guard against theft and diversion of controlled substances, and charges UPMC and the staffing agencies with failing to report Kwiatkowski's alleged theft and use of these substances. The complaint requests a jury trial and unspecified damages.

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