The American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) could be held liable in a lawsuit stemming from a string of hepatitis C infections after a judge denied the organization’s motion to dismiss the suit.
ARRT was accused of failing to investigate a complaint that a radiologic technologist, David Kwiatkoski, abused the controlled substance fentanyl. As previously reported in Cardiovascular Business, Kwiatkoski was allegedly infected with hepatitis C while he worked for the Arizona Heart Hospital in 2010. He was accused of injecting himself with syringes containing fentanyl, then replacing the syringes with those he had previously stolen and filled with saline.
After being fired from the Arizona Heart Hospital, Kwiatkoski was hired at the Exeter Hospital in Exeter, N.H., in 2011. He was arrested in July 2012 on charges of tampering with a consumer product, and more than 30 patients in New Hampshire and elsewhere have been identified as having been infected with a strain of hepatitis C matching the one carried by Kwiatkowski.
ARRT unsuccessfully argued that it couldn’t be held responsible for the unforeseen actions of Kwiatkowski, and also pointed out that the plaintiffs, infected patients identified as Jane B. Doe and John A. Doe in court documents, did not know of ARRT and thus no duty of care was owed.
“The Court understands why an organization such as ARRT would seek to distance itself from the tragic events of the Hepatitis C cases here in New Hampshire,” wrote Rockingham County Superior Court Judge Kenneth McHugh. “However presumably in the industry the initials R.T. mean something, while perhaps not to patients in a hospital but certainly to the hospital itself in terms of its consideration as to whether or not to employ these people.”
ARRT continued to certify Kwiatkowski after the initial allegations made against him, and the organization said it did not revoke his credentials because it did not have first-hand evidence of the allegations.
“Yet it does not appear from the pleadings that any investigation was undertaken,” continued McHugh in his ruling. “Note that this occurrence in Arizona was a full year before Kwiatkowski was hired by Exeter Hospital. Clearly there was an opportunity for investigation and action by ARRT.” He added that had Kwiatkowski been decertified, he likely wouldn’t have been hired in Exeter.
A hearing for the civil cases is scheduled for March 29, according to Seacoast Online.