One of the Kansas patients died, and authorities say hepatitis C, a blood-borne virus that can cause liver disease and chronic health problems, played a contributing role. The charges Kwiatkowski admitted to in Kansas stem from the patient who died, and many of the other patients have experienced serious medical problems, U.S. Attorney John Kacavas said.
“Tragically, the defendant’s admissions of guilt today are too little, too late for those victims,” he said. “There were many warning signs, there were many stop signs, there were many red lights along that road that were simply ignored by the defendant himself, a health care worker, by other individuals and entities in the health care industry.”
Kwiatkowski told the judge Wednesday he was addicted to drugs and alcohol and was recently diagnosed with depression, for which he is taking several medications. Asked how he was feeling Wednesday, he answered, “good.”
Kacavas said most of Kwiatkowski’s victims support the plea agreement, though some were disappointed that the proposed sentence wasn’t longer.
“I understand victims who want nothing less than a life sentence or the death penalty — I get that. But our system doesn’t allow for that,” he said. “The victims support this disposition for the most part but are frustrated that they will carry this infection for the rest of their lives and feel that the defendant should spend the rest of his life beyond bars, which … if this 40-year sentence is imposed he may well do.”
At least two dozen civil lawsuits related to his case are pending, most of them against Exeter Hospital, and while Wednesday’s plea rules out further criminal charges against Kwiatkowski, charges against hospitals or staffing agencies are possible, Kacavas said.
“Our investigation is not done,” he said. “As we approach finality in his case, we are also looking elsewhere.”