Concerns Raised Over Healthcare Contract Workers

A contract worker accused of stealing injectable medication and spreading hepatitis C at a New Hampshire hospital leaves many people with questions on the hiring practices and safety surrounding temporary employment in the medical field.

“Since a temporary radiologic technologist was accused of stealing drugs from a New Hampshire hospital and giving patients hepatitis C through infected syringes, troubling reports of his past have emerged -- casting a spotlight on the staffing industry as a whole,” according to CNN.

The accused, 33-year-old David Kwiatkowski, worked in 13 hospitals in 8 different states from 2007-2012. He was arrested in Massachusetts while intoxicated, court documents show. An influx of contract employees has entered the workforce since 2009, with roughly 25% of all new jobs created are temporary positions.

According to American Staffing Association data, about 1.7% of the healthcare industry's workforce is comprised of temporary or contract workers. That's about 240,000 employees compared to 14 million full-time workers. Temp workers like Kwiatkowski work in nearly every field of medicine -- as nurses, physicians, med techs, and administrators.

The Kwiatkowski case has led to concern that medical contract workers provide substandard care, and questions surrounding the hiring process of both temp and full-time employees. Two years ago, Kwiatkowski was fired from Arizona Heart Hospital after a fellow employee discovered him passed out in a bathroom, according to CNN.

Within weeks, he was working again at another hospital. After discovering this fact, the staffing agency reported it to the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists. Kwiatkowski was not punished because ARRT did not have firsthand evidence, ARRT officials said. Though Scott Schnierer, vice president of business development for Comforce Staffing Services, said that most staffing firms conduct a lengthy background check on potential employees, he also notes that some former hiring managers are unwilling to disclose reasons behind an employee’s previous terminations. This could leave loopholes in the system.

If you suspect you may have been infected in connection to the Exeter Hospital hepatitis C outbreak, call Sokolove Law today about pursuing legal action. For legal help, call (800) 581-6358.