Former UPMC hospital worker gets 39 years in hepatitis C case
CONCORD, N.H. — The 39-year prison sentence imposed upon a traveling medical technician who infected patients with hepatitis C through tainted syringes is “justified,” an attorney representing one of the victims said on Monday.
“Considering the fact that it was a premeditated act and the fact that there were so many victims, I would think that it's justice,” said Pittsburgh attorney Bill Caroselli, the civil attorney for Linda Ficken, 71, of Andover, Kan.
David Kwiatkowski, 34, a cardiac technologist, pleaded guilty in August to 14 theft and drug charges and agreed to serve a 30- to 40-year sentence.
Prosecutors said Kwiatkowski worked in 18 hospitals in seven states — including UPMC Presbyterian in Oakland — before Exeter Hospital in New Hampshire hired him in 2011. He moved from job to job despite being fired at least four times over allegations of drug use and theft.
Since his arrest last year, 46 people have been diagnosed with the strain of hepatitis C he carries.
UPMC officials fired Kwiatkowski in May 2008 on suspicion of stealing narcotics. Officials said he worked at the Oakland hospital for 47 days.
“We had one patient who had the same strain (of hepatitis C) as Mr. Kwiatkowski, but there's no evidence that this patient was infected here,” said UPMC spokeswoman Gloria Kreps. “We tested a lot of patients. We offered testing to even more.”
Ficken, who attended the sentencing hearing in Concord, filed a civil lawsuit against UPMC, Maxim Staffing Solutions of Columbia, Md., and Medical Solutions LLC of Omaha in Allegheny County Common Pleas Court in September 2012, claiming the hospital and staffing companies failed to properly vet and oversee Kwiatkowski.
She underwent a cardiac catheterization at Hays Medical Center in Kansas in 2010 and said she is haunted by the memory of Kwiatkowski standing at her bedside for more than an hour, applying pressure to the catheter's entry site in her leg to control a bleeding problem.
In a written statement to the court, she told Kwiatkowski she would like him to spend the rest of his life “locked away from society, in a prison that provides you the ultimate hell on earth, which you so deserve.”
Kwiatkowski admitted stealing painkillers and replacing them with saline-filled syringes tainted with his blood. He apologized.
Prosecutors pushed for a 40-year prison sentence, saying he set off a “national public health crisis” and put a significant number of people at risk.
Defense lawyers argued that a 30-year sentence would better balance the seriousness of the crimes against Kwiatkowski's mental and emotional problems, and his addiction to drugs and alcohol, which they said clouded his judgment.
Trib Total Media staff writer Adam Brandolph contributed to this report.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Steelers sign former star LB Harrison; Tomlin talks ‘different climate’
- Port Authority: Drivers ‘reckless’ before buses bumped, wrecking 1
- State Sen. Jim Ferlo: ‘I’m gay. Get over it. I love it’
- Steelers’ Taylor recovering from forearm surgery
- Baldwin-Whitehall substitute teacher charged in child porn case
- Coder resigns as football coach at Canon-McMillan
- Steelers defense must replace 3 injured starters after victory
- Missing boy from Wilkinsburg found in N.C.
- Sears leaving Century III after 3 decades in West Mifflin
- Fox Chapel teen wins $25K scholarship in Google Science Fair
- Pirates notebook: Volquez open to re-signing with team