Two Valley hospitals are notifying patients they may have been exposed to hepatitis C by a healthcare technician . The Maricopa County Department of Public Health confirmed to ABC15 that healthcare technician David Kwiatkowski worked at The Arizona Heart Hospital and Maryvale Hospital. Kwiatkowski is accused of injecting himself with pain medication at hospitals and then returning the contaminated syringes that later infected patients with Hepatitis C, a liver disease.
Patients who received care in the cardiac catheterization labs at Maryvale Hospital from March 9, 2009 to June 27, 2009, or at the Arizona Heart Hospital from March 22, 2010 to April 2, 2010 are being contacted by mail to recommend they undergo confidential hepatitis C testing. Teri Bockting, a spokeswoman for the hospitals, says they're currently pulling patient records and are not sure how many patients this could impact. "We're hoping to have that number as soon as possible. This is a top priority," Bockting said.
According to a news release, free testing will be available to these patients at various laboratory locations over the next several weeks. A dedicated information line has been established for patients who have been notified as potentially being at risk at 602-674-6844. For patients wanting to email questions or concerns, an email mailbox is available at PHPIO@mail.maricopa.gov .
Kwiatkowski was employed through a temporary staffing agency and worked in Arizona in 2009 and 2010.
“To be clear, we do not know and may never know if this individual was positive for hepatitis C while working in Arizona in 2009 and 2010,” said Dr. Bob England, director of Maricopa County Public Health. “We understand and recognize how this situation may cause concern among patients, which is why, as a precaution, our affected hospitals are making every effort to make sure patients who could have been exposed are notified and offered testing.” Federal investigators say Kwiatkowski infected at least 30 patients in New Hampshire but may have exposed thousands more at facilities in Arizona, Georgia, Kansas, Maryland, New York, and Michigan.
If there are victims, who have suffered damages because of the NEGLIGENCE of this health care employee, this would be considered a "medical malpractice" case under Arizona law.
Arizona Revised Statutes 12-563 provides:
Both of the following shall be necessary elements of proof that injury resulted from the failure of a health care provider to follow the accepted standard of care:
1. The health care provider failed to exercise that degree of care, skill and learning expected of a reasonable, prudent health care provider in the profession or class to which he belongs within the state acting in the same or similar circumstances.
2. Such failure was a proximate cause of the injury.
There is little doubt that the. Health care worked "failed to exercise the degree of care...". If injuries are claimed, proof that the injuries were "proximately caused" by the negligence would entitle the victim to legal damages, including payment for medical bills, compensation for physical pain and emotional distress, and among other things, medical monitoring.
Medical Malpractice cases can be tough and they are always hard fought. If you have been affected, please consider consulting with an experienced Arizona medical malpractice attorney.