December 23, 2012

Half of patients fail to get recommended testing for hepatitis C

The Associated Press

CONCORD, N.H. - Hospitals across the country recommended hepatitis C testing for about 7,900 patients last summer after a traveling medical worker was accused of stealing drugs and infecting patients with tainted syringes in New Hampshire. But five months later, nearly half of those who were possibly exposed to the liver-destroying disease in other states have yet to be tested.

David Kwiatkowski is accused of stealing syringes of the powerful painkiller fentanyl from the cardiac catheterization lab at Exeter Hospital and replacing them with saline-filled syringes tainted with his own blood. In jail since his arrest in July, he pleaded not guilty to 14 federal drug charges this month and is expected to go to trial next fall.

Thirty-two people in New Hampshire have been diagnosed with the same strain of hepatitis C that Kwiatkowski carries, along with six in Kansas, five in Maryland and one in Pennsylvania. At least 3,700 people outside New Hampshire have yet to be tested, hospitals and public health officials told The Associated Press.

 

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