This past week, "serial infector" David Kwiatkowski granted an interview with Newsweek magazine, the details of which are extremely frightening. Though he had been in contact with the journalist just months after his sentencing, he and jail officials at Hazelton maximum-security prison in West Virginia were scared of the backlash from other prisoners, perhaps placing him in harm's way, though Kwiatkowski says he now has no enemies. In his two years in prison, Kwiatkowski has lost seventy pounds and says he hasn't thought about drug or alcohol since he was put away. He admits prison saved his life and that he is now back to the person he was before he started drinking in high school, saying that he is trying to make up for what he has done. He felt giving this interview would help awareness of the countless others in his situation-healthcare professionals addicted to drugs.
By all accounts, David Kwiatkowski was a good kid. He was a clean-cut, above average ball player who avoided cigarettes and drinking because baseball was too important to him. At the end of his junior year in high school, however, he began hanging out and having drinking parties in woods with friends. He came from a family of alcoholics and fell right into line. By his senior year, Kwiatkowski would drink whiskey every chance he got.
He matriculated to Madonna University where he admits to getting drunk at least four nights a week. During his sophomore year, he met a guy in his late twenties and joined him and his friends in drinking and doing drugs several nights a week. Kwiatkowski said they paid for most everything and allowed him as much cocaine as he wanted. Soon, he said, he was a total coke-head and spent a lot of his time looking for techno music clubs in downtown Detroit.
As a sufferer of Crohn's disease, Kwiatkowski found temporary relief in cocaine and alcohol, but the drinking ultimately made his Crohn's worse. Instead of giving up on his lifestyle, he was able to persuade a physician to give him Vicodin for the pain. Somehow, through all the drinking and partying, he was able to keep up with his schoolwork. He became interested in the healthcare field and earned a two-year radiology degree at William Beaumont Hospital School of Radiologic Technology while also enrolled at Madonna. After he graduated, he registered and was licensed through the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists.
This is where the scary part begins.
At every single hospital he was employed, he was let go. Kwiatkowski tells horror stories of he, nurses, and doctors who would set up semi-elaborate plans to steal pain medication and then shoot up after work. He said every hospital had its own way of disposing of partially used vials of pain meds, but that, one way or another, he would figure out a system to steal them.
On one occasion, Kwiatkowski actually shot up a drug that was inaccurately labeled; instead of a painkiller, it was a paralytic. Had he shot the entire dosage he would have died, but instead he just collapsed on a bathroom floor at a hospital in Arizona. He quickly tried to flush the needle, but a colleague came in, saw Kwiatkowski on the floor, the needle in the toilet, and notified hospital staff. And hospital administration did…nothing.
After being passed around from hospital to hospital through different agencies, one person felt it her duty to advise against hiring him any time she received a call about his previous work history, but that didn't stop him from being employed again and again. While working in Kansas, Kwiatkowski went to see a doctor because he wasn't feeling well. This is when he found out that he had Hepatitis C, but that didn't stop him from continuing to shoot up and replace the needles with saline. This is when the infecting began.
Time and time again, Kwiatkowski was hired and released for his stealing drugs, but law officials were never contacted until the very end. Kwiatkowski says that he surely isn't the only one, but that he was stupid. He admits that there were times when he would be confident about security searching his locker, only to find that another healthcare addict hid a different drug in his locker.
The CDC believes that approximately 30,000 people have been exposed to hepatitis C over the last decade and federal researchers estimate that 100,000 healthcare professional in the United States are drug addicts. David Kwiatkowski thinks that number is much higher.
If you have questions about possible exposure to or contraction of hepatitis C from a healthcare professional, call the medical malpractice attorneys at Dallas W. Hartman, P.C. today for a free consultation at 800-777-4081.