As the saying goes, "history repeats itself." In June, we wrote an article about an interview that was done with the imprisoned "serial infector," David Kwiatkowski. If you'll recall, Kwiatkowski is serving a 39-year sentence for infecting nearly fifty people with the hepatitis C virus after intravenously injecting the painkiller fentanyl, then swapping saline back into the tubes and having the needles re-used on patients. In the article were detailed accounts of his drinking and drug use, stemming all the way back since he was sixteen until he attempted suicide and was finally arrested just a few years ago.
But David also had some other harrowing news to offer. He wasn't the only one. In fact, Kwiatkowski said that he concocted semi-elaborate plans with other healthcare professionals, including nurses and doctors, to steal the pain medication and then shoot up after work. The CDC estimates that about 30,000 people have been exposed to hepatitis C over the last decade from healthcare professionals who swap drugs out for saline or water then leave the dirty needles to be used for patients. Federal investigators believe that at least 100,000 healthcare professionals-techs, aids, nurses, doctors, surgeons, and administrators-are drug addicts. David Kwiatkowski believes that number is much, much higher.
Now, less than two years after David Kwiatkowski was sentenced to 39 years in jail-one less than the maximum sentence because the judge wanted to show him there is compassion in the world-another infector has been arrested and admitted to swapping out drugs and replacing them with saline. This time, the drugs of choice were morphine and Dilaudid. 49-year-old Elet Neilson-who once admitted to and was fired for stealing Benadryl from Davis Hospital & Medical Center in Layton, Utah-was soon after hired by McKay-Dee Hospital in Ogden, Utah. The two medical facilities are literally just miles apart. Somehow, though, Neilson was able to get a job as a registered nurse without proper screening or psychological evaluation that may have otherwise hindered her from being hired and saved more than 7000 people from hepatitis C exposure.
The worst part about both of these cases is that Kwiatkowski and Neilson knew they were infected with hepatitis C, but chose to place hospitals patients in harm's way to feed their drug habits anyway.
If you have questions about hepatitis C exposure, have received a letter from McKay-Dee or Davis about being exposed, or have been diagnosed with hepatitis C after being a patient at either hospital, please call the medical malpractice attorneys at Dallas W. Hartman, P.C. today for free consultation at 800-777-4081.