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May 20, 2016 12:10 PM

Exeter Hospital files suit against staff agency in Hepatitis C case

EXETER — A new suit was filed in Exeter Hospital's ongoing litigation against the agencies it claims are partially responsible for the 2012 Hepatitis C outbreak caused by emergency room technician David Kwiatkowski's drug diversion. reports Exeter Hospital is now demanding compensation from American Health Care Services Association, a Michigan company formerly used by the hospital to provide temporary staffing. The hospital previously filed suit against Triage Staffing and the American Radiologic Technologists.

According to a recent filing, Exeter Hospital wants compensation from AHSA “in excess of” $75,000 in connection with settlements reached between the hospital and patients who tested negative for Hepatitis C in the aftermath of the outbreak.

Exeter Hospital attorneys said in the filing that Kwiatkowski's infection of more than 30 patients at the hospital was “a direct and proximate result of … breaches of duty” by AHSA. In associated litigation, hospital attorneys allege Triage Staffing was negligent in placing Kwiatkowski, who injected himself with Fentanyl he stole from the hospital, replaced it with saline and then left infected needles to be used on patients.

It is also alleged the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists was aware of similar cases involving Kwiatkowski, but failed to revoke his license.

According to court documents, Exeter Hospital reached pre-suit agreements with 188 patients claiming the anxiety of being tested and waiting days or weeks for their negative results caused them “diverse physical and emotional injuries.” More than 3,000 patients were tested, according to the hospital's motion. The amount of the settlements reached with the negative patients remains confidential.

Thirty-three civil suits were filed against Exeter Hospital and various staffing agencies by patients who tested positive for Hepatitis C. Exeter Hospital settled most of the suits out of court for undisclosed amounts, and subsequently filed suit against Kwiatkowski, ARRT and Triage Staffing, requesting partial relief for the settlements.

The trial date for the suit against Triage and ARRT is set for Oct. 23, 2017.

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