- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
Approximately 120 Southern Maryland Hospital Center patients might have been exposed to hepatitis C between December 2008 and February 2009.
David Matthew Kwiatkowski, a former contract employee at the Prince George’s County hospital, was arrested in New Hampshire on Friday for illegally obtaining controlled substances and potentially exposing 30 people in the hospital he worked at there to hepatitis C, according to a news release from the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.
Kwiatkowski worked at four hospitals in Maryland from 2008 to 2010. While employed at the hospital in Clinton, Kwiatkowski worked in the hospital’s cardiac catheterization laboratory and angiography suite, according to an SMHC news release.
The hospital is working with DHMH to contact the potentially affected people and offer them free testing. It currently is unknown whether Kwiatkowski had hepatitis C while employed at SMHC.
“We’re proceeding with great care,” SMHC spokeswoman Nancy Norman said. “We’re making sure all those affected are contacted so they can receive free screening from us. It is our hope, and our opinion, that this nurse’s erratic behavior did not occur at our hospital, but we’re taking the steps to make sure.”
Norman said it is currently unknown whether any of those potentially affected live in Charles County.
Hepatitis C is a liver disease spread through contact with the blood of an infected person.
Charles County Department of Health spokesman Bill Leebel said that of those infected with the disease, between 70 and 80 percent never develop symptoms. If they do develop, symptoms can include general ones such as fever, nausea, fatigue and abdominal pain, along with more specific symptoms such as darkened urine, joint pain and jaundice.
Leebel said that the prevalence of those who do not develop symptoms leads to it being spread without one’s knowledge.
According to the website for the federal Centers for Disease Control, treatment with antiviral drugs can eradicate the virus at 24 weeks of treatment (effectively a cure) in 40 percent to 80 percent of patients with the disease, depending on the strain with which they are infected.
Those with further questions should call 301-877-5563.