CONCORD, N.H. – A traveling medical technician accused of causing a hepatitis C outbreak in New Hampshire wrote a suicide note saying he “couldn’t handle this stress anymore” the week before his arrest, according to a police report.

David Kwiatkwoski was arrested July 19 at a Massachusetts hospital six days after police found him apparently impaired in a hotel room scattered with prescription pills, according to police in Marlborough, Mass. Kwiatkowski is being held on federal drug charges in New Hampshire, and authorities are trying to determine if he spread the virus in seven other states.

Though federal authorities previously indicated that Kwiatkowski might have tried to harm himself in the days before his arrest July 19, the Marlborough police report includes new details, including a list of six prescription drugs that were found in Kwiatkowski’s hotel room. Officers also smelled a strong odor of alcohol on Kwiatkowski’s breath, and he slurred his words when he spoke, police said.

Police also found a note that read, “please call Kerry and let her know I passed away. Tell her I couldn’t handle this stress anymore.” The MetroWest Daily News in Framingham, Mass., first reported details of the note.

“It was apparent from the note, pills and alcohol that David was trying to harm himself,” Officer James O’Malley wrote.

Along with those new details of Kwiatkowski’s recent past, his work history stretching back more than five years also continues to be investigated,.

The head of Arizona’s state health lab said tests of people possibly exposed to hepatitis C in 2009 and 2010 – when Kwiatkowski worked in two Arizona hospitals – could indicate whether they have the disease but not how they got it.

The virus mutates within the body, so linking any positive test results to Kwiatkowski would be more difficult over time, particularly past one year, said Victor Waddell, who has a doctorate in molecular biology and genetics.

“It’s going to be very difficult if not impossible,” Waddell said.

Testing has been recommended for about 4,700 people in New Hampshire alone, and officials still are determining who should be tested in a dozen hospitals elsewhere. In addition to Arizona – where he was fired from one hospital after testing positive for cocaine and marijuana – he worked in Georgia, Kansas, Maryland, Michigan, New York and Pennsylvania before being hired by Exeter Hospital in New Hampshire in April 2011.

Kwiatkowski, 33, is accused of stealing anesthetic drugs from Exeter’s cardiac catheterization lab and contaminating syringes used on patients.

U.S. Attorney John Kacavas has said that one of the strongest elements of his case against Kwiatkowski is the fact that the same strain of hepatitis C has been diagnosed in Kwiatkowski and 30 patients who were treated at the cardiac lab during his employment.

 


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