Case dismissed against UPMC stemming from radiologist with hepatitis

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A judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed against UPMC Presbyterian and Maxim Healthcare Services in which they were accused of negligence for failing to report a former radiologic technician's theft of narcotics.

The lawsuit was filed last year by Thomas D. Walters, who was diagnosed in 2012 with hepatitis C, and who later learned that he had contracted the disease when he was being treated at Hays Medical Center in Kansas. He claimed that he caught it when he was stuck with a needle that was previously used by David Kwiatkowski, who had hepatitis C.

Mr. Kwiatkowski had worked at UPMC Presbyterian, as a temporary employee supplied by Maxim, for around two months in 2008. He was barred from UPMC facilities when staff accused him of stealing syringes full of the narcotics fentanyl and morphine.

"Yet, neither UPMC nor Maxim took steps that would prevent Kwiatkowski from working at other healthcare facilities," Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge R. Stanton Wettick Jr. wrote in his opinion last month. As a result, Mr. Kwiatkowski went on to work at seven other hospitals.

Judge Wettick found that UPMC and Maxim are not liable for things that happened years after the failure to report Mr. Kwiatkowski.

"[S]ince UPMC did not create the risk (but only failed to prevent the harm), UPMC is not liable to third persons whom it never treated," the judge wrote, and a broader finding could impose "liability upon healthcare providers without limits."

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Rich Lord: rlord@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1542 or Twitter @richelord


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