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The controversy surrounding health care contract workers since arrest of medical technician

The arrest of David Kwiatkowski, a temporary radiologic technologist, for stealing drugs and infecting patients with hepatitis C has shed a new light on temporary workers across the nation.

Kwiatkowski worked in 13 hospitals in eight states between January 2007 and July 2012, including UPMC Presby in Pittsburgh, before he was arrested in a Massachusetts. During that time he was employed by at least two staffing firms.

The health care industry's work force is now composed of 1.7% of temporary or contract workers, according to ASA data. That's about 240,000 employees, compared to the nearly 14 million full-time health care workers in the United States.

While some studies show that contract and temporary workers are actually more educated and save hospitals millions of dollars a year, the Kwiatkowski case raises questions about the hiring process for both temporary and permanent health care workers.

The Kwiatkowski case is not the first case regarding a health care worker accused of harming patients during a career punctuated by troubling incidents. In 2005 after a nurse was accused of killing at least 20 patients in New Jersey, a state law took effect requiring health care professionals or companies to notify the state Division of Consumer Affairs of concerns or misconduct of health care workers who could endanger patients.

We know that two years ago, Kwiatkowski was fired from Arizona Heart Hospital in Phoenix when a fellow he was found passed out in the men's bathroom, according to documents obtained by CNN. That same month, he was placed at Temple University Hospital in Pennsylvania.

While the staffing agency claims to have reported Kwiatkowski to the ARRT, "the director of the Arizona Radiation Regulatory Agency said officials stopped their investigation when Kwiatkowski moved out of state."

Facts of this case are still being sorted out.  Our office is encouraging anyone who thinks they may have been treated at a hospital where Kwiatkowski worked to get tested for Hepatitis C right away.

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