The man accused of infecting dozens of patients in the U.S. with Hepatitis C tested positive for drug use after he was found unresponsive in a locker room two years ago at an Arizona hospital where he had a contracted assignment, according to officials.
David Kwiatkowski was found April 1, 2010, in possession of syringes and needles at Arizona Heart Hospital, said hospital spokeswoman Teri Bockting.
Hospital personnel followed normal protocol and acted quickly to have him tested and treated in the emergency room where a drug test was administered and he tested positive for the presence of both cocaine and marijuana, Bockting said.
The Phoenix Police Department was then notified and his contract with the temporary staffing agency was immediately terminated on April 2, 2010, Bockting said.
"Although the hospital was under different ownership at the time, it appears from the records that hospital personnel acted swiftly and followed the appropriate protocols to ensure the Phoenix Police Department was notified as well as the staffing agency so that he would no longer be able to expose this facility's or other facility's employees and patients to further risk," Bockting said in a statement.
Hospital officials also notified the Arizona Radiation Regulatory Committee eight days after the incident. Director Aubrey Godwin said the agency immediately began an investigation. By law, they reached out to Kwiatkowski, but he had already left the state.
"He was out of state, and we were not able to contact him for a while," said Godwin.
The only contact came weeks later. Kwiatkowski mailed a hand-written note to ARRA saying he did not have the resources to fight the accusations and was surrendering his Arizona license. Without the interview, which is required by state law, the ARRA could not finalize a report, and therefore could not notify the Federal Department of Health about Kwiatkowski.
"(Through the interview), it might have turned out that there was some simple explanation of what happened, and he may not have been guilty of anything, so you don't want to accuse someone falsely," explained Godwin.
Instead, Kwiatkowski moved from state-to-state, and he ended up in New Hampshire, where he's accused of infecting dozens of people with Hepatitis C.
Locally, last week, the hospital said that 157 patients were potentially exposed to the virus at Arizona Heart Hospital by Kwiatkowski. Another 132 patients were potentially exposed at Maryvale Hospital.
Concern about possible patient exposure arose after an investigation into a healthcare technician involved in an outbreak of the virus in New Hampshire revealed he worked briefly in Arizona.
Kwiatkowski had brief contracted assignments at the Arizona Heart Hospital and Maryvale Hospital.
Kwiatkowski worked in the cardiac catheterization labs at Maryvale hospital from March 9, 2009, to June 27, 2009, and at the Arizona Heart Hospital from March 22, 2010, to April 2, 2010.
The hospital has been referring concerned callers to a special Hepatitis C information hotline. The number is 602-674-6844.
Copyright 2012 CBS 5 (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
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