Class action suit filed in NH hepatitis C outbreak
EXETER, N.H. (WHDH) -- A class-action lawsuit was filed on behalf of patients infected with hepatitis C at a New Hampshire hospital.
New Hampshire health officials are urging 6,000 patients to get tested after a hepatitis C outbreak was linked to Exeter Hospital in New Hampshire. Hundreds of patients in other states are questioning if they were infected as well.
Federal prosecutors said David Kwiatkowski stole drugs and syringes from Exeter Hospital where he worked. Prosecutors said he then contaminated those syringes with Hepatitis C. Police said those syringes were returned and used on patients.
So far 30 people have been diagnosed with the same strain of Hepatitis C as Kwiatkowski, who was charged last week and entered a not guilty plea.
“Patients are, my clients, they’re worried about can I touch my grandchild, can I touch my wife?” said attorney Domenic Paolini.
Paolini represents some of the infected patients. He filed a first class action lawsuit against the staffing company, Triage Staffing, which first hired Kwiatkowski and placed him at hospitals throughout the country, including Exeter Hospital, where he was eventually hired full time.
“He never should have been at Exeter in the first place,” said Paolini.
In court paperwork, Paolini said if the staffing company properly investigated Kwiatkowski they would have discovered a 2008 incident at a hospital in a different state. The paperwork said the suspect was spotted stealing syringes. The complaint reads:
“A hospital employee observed Mr. Kwiatkowski enter an operating room, lift his shirt, put a syringe in his pants,” it went on to say: “Three empty syringes bearing Fentanyl labels were found on his person.” Kwiatkowski then allegedly tested positive for Fentanyl.
Paolini said Kwiatkowski left the hospital shortly thereafter.
“When David left these institutions, all Triage should have done was picked up the phone and called them and said how did he work out, what was going on?” said Paolini.
7News reached out to Triage Staffing, based in Nebraska. The company did not comment.