The family of an elderly woman in Kansas is suing UPMC Presbyterian and two other medical staffing companies because, the family claims, they failed to notify law enforcement or health authorities when they found an employee stealing narcotics and injecting himself with them.
Eleanor Y. Murphy, 89, died at Hays Medical Center in Hays, Kansas, on Nov. 6, 2012. According to the complaint, she contracted hepatitis C after being treated by David Kwiatkowski, who worked at Hays Medical Center when she was being treated there in June and July 2010.
According to the complaint, a UPMC employee saw Kwiatkowski in May 2008enter an operating room and hide a syringe in his pants. The hospital discovered a short time later that fentanyl, a pain killer, was missing. When Kwiatkowski was confronted, hospital personnel found three empty fentanyl syringes on him.
Kwiatkowski was no longer allowed to work at the hospital, the lawsuit said, but UPMC took no action to report Kwiatkowski’s behavior to law enforcement or medical licensing facilities.
Because of that, the complaint continues, he was permitted to continue working at a number of hospitals across the country for four more years.
The lawsuit, which includes claims for negligence and seeks punitive damages, also names as defendants Maxim Healthcare Services Inc. and Medical Solutions LLC, which placed employees in healthcare jobs.
Kwiatkowski pleaded guilty in August in New Hampshire to 16 federal counts and was sentenced to 39 years in prison. Prosecutors said he was responsible for infecting at least 45 hospital patients with hepatitis C by contaminating their syringes.