Hospital technician to plead guilty in hepatitis C outbreak

This undated photo provided by the U.S. Attorney's Office in New Hampshire shows David Kwiatkowski, a former lab technician at Exeter, N.H., Hospital, arrested at a hospital in Massachusetts where he is receiving medical treatment. Kwiatkowski, originally from Michigan, was charged Thursday, July 19, 2012, with causing a hepatitis C outbreak involving at least 30 patients who were treated at Exeter Hospital's cardiac catheterization lab. AP Photo/U.S. Attorney's Office

CONCORD, N.H. A hospital technician accused of causing a multi-state outbreak of hepatitis C will plead guilty in exchange for a prison term of 30 to 40 years, according to a plea agreement filed Monday in New Hampshire federal court.

The plea says it would allow David Kwiatkowski to avoid criminal charges in Kansas, Maryland and Georgia — states where authorities say the traveling cardiac technologist injected himself with painkillers then put saline back in the tainted needles.

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  • Dozens of patients in three states were infected as a result of Kwiatkowski's actions, according to the plea agreement. One patient in Kansas who was infected with hepatitis C genetically linked to Kwiatkowski's strain died and the infection played a "contributing role" in the patient's death, the plea agreement said.

    The agreement includes details of an interview Kwiatkowski gave investigators in New Hampshire after his arrest, saying he knew he'd been diagnosed in 2010 but continued to "swap out" syringes of the painkiller fentanyl.

    According to the agreement, Kwiatkowski said he was the only person involved in the diverting of drugs at Exeter Hospital in New Hampshire then added, "and I'm going to kill a lot of people out of this."

    Kwiatkowski also infected patients at Johns Hopkins University Hospital in Baltimore, the VA Medical Center in Baltimore and Hays Medical Center in Kansas, according to the plea agreement signed by Kwiatkowski and his attorneys on July 18.

    Under the terms of the deal, Kwiatkowski will plead guilty to seven counts each of tampering with a consumer product and obtaining controlled substances by fraud. A change of plea hearing was scheduled for Wednesday.

    Kwiatkowski, who grew up in Michigan, worked as a "traveler" sent by staffing agencies to hospitals around the country, usually for temporary jobs. In announcing federal drug charges last year, U.S. Attorney John Kacavas called him a "serial infector."

    Kwiatkowski's attorney did not immediately a phone message left at his office Monday night.

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