CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — A traveling hospital worker accused of stealing drugs and infecting patients with hepatitis C through contaminated syringes pleaded not guilty to the charges in federal court on Monday.
David Kwiatkowski, whom prosecutors describe as a "serial infector," was indicted last week on multiple charges of tampering with a consumer product and illegally obtaining drugs.
Kwiatkowski, who was handcuffed, said only "yes" when asked in court if he understood his rights. His trial was scheduled for the first week of February, although U.S. Attorney John Kacavas said given the complexity of the case, it probably would take place later in the year.
Kacavas could not say how much federal prison time Kwiatkowski could get if convicted but said prosecutors will seek a substantial sentence. He said the investigation continues, and further charges against Kwiatkowski could not be ruled out.
Until May, Kwiatkowski worked as a cardiac technologist at Exeter Hospital, where 32 patients were diagnosed with the same strain of hepatitis C he carries. Before that, he worked as a traveling technologist in 18 hospitals in seven states, moving from job to job despite having been fired twice over allegations of drug use and theft.
Thousands of patients in Arizona, Georgia, Kansas, Maryland, Michigan, New York and Pennsylvania have since been tested for hepatitis C, a blood-borne viral infection that can cause liver disease and chronic health issues. In addition to the New Hampshire patients, a handful of patients in Kansas and one in Maryland have been found to carry the strain Kwiatkowski carries.