August 30, 2012
Infection control experts at the VA Maryland Health Care System continue to investigate whether any patients were exposed to hepatitis C after learning that David Matthew Kwiatkowski, a health care worker suspected of transmitting the virus to patients in New Hampshire, had previously worked as a contract Diagnostic Radiologic Technologist (DRT) in the Radiology Department at the Baltimore VA Medical Center from May 22, 2008 to November 7, 2008.
Kwiatkowski, who was employed through Advance Med LLC at the Baltimore VA Medical Center, also worked at three other hospitals in Maryland through March 2010. The VA Maryland Health Care System continues to work closely with the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene in regards to this issue.
An initial review of patient records indicated that 168 patients had procedures that involved the contract technologist. Follow up of 117 patients has been completed and no further testing is required. It was determined that the remaining 51 patients needed to be contacted and offered free testing for hepatitis C. All 51 patients have been contacted by phone or sent a certified letter from the VA Maryland Health Care System to encourage them to be tested for hepatitis C. As a precaution and to safeguard patient well-being, the VA Maryland Health Care System is currently contacting an additional 17 patients that had procedures in the second Radiology room to which the technologist had possible access.
Testing results will be reported directly to the patients. Infectious disease experts at the VA Maryland Health Care System have plans to offer counseling and treatment to any patients with hepatitis C infection. Out of respect for Veteran patients, information about hepatitis C test results will not be made available until patients have been tested and notified about their results.
The VA health care system requires verification of work history and professional credentials prior to entrance on duty for all employees and contract workers in the health care field. This verification includes a criminal background check, proof of licensure, registration or certification, job-specific competencies (for contract workers), and references.
The appointment of DRTs in the Veterans Health Administration requires certification through the American Registry of Radiologic Technologist (ARRT). This includes all contract workers. The ARRT is the world's largest credentialing organization in medical imaging, interventional procedures and radiation therapy. They test and certify technologists nationally and are a recognized governing authority for the technologist certification. This verification is required prior to the entrance on duty for all employees and contract workers.
The Radiology Department at the Baltimore VA Medical Center is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week and uses DRTs for various imaging modalities. Depending on patient care needs and staffing requirements, the VA Maryland Health Care System hires contract DRTs from approved agencies from the federal government supply/vendor list on an as needed basis.
The health care system has established an information line for patients at 1-800-463-6295, ext. 7384. A 24-hour Telephone Care Line is also available for patients and family members interested in receiving more information about hepatitis C at 1-800-865-2441.
The VA Maryland Health Care System is committed to providing quality health care and ensuring the safety of its patients and staff from possible infectious diseases. The health care system is cooperating with federal and state health officials during their ongoing investigation.Hepatitis C Update #2