Maxim employee forged email to state in hepatitis c case

Staffing company later fired the worker

March 23, 2013|By Andrea K. Walker, The Baltimore Sun

A staffing company owned by Columbia-based Maxim Healthcare Services created a false email to make it appear it had informed state health officials about unethical conduct by contract worker David Kwiatkowski, who is accused of exposing hundreds of Maryland patients to hepatitis C.

State investigators divulged the information in a report about Kwiatkowski's time in Maryland working at four hospitals from 2008 to 2010. Kwiatkowski is accused of stealing narcotics-filled syringes and filling them with saline to be used on patients in several states. He pleaded not guilty to federal charges.

As part of a subpoena from Health Secretary Joshua M. Sharfstein, Maxim's regional director of clinical services provided the email, saying it came from the Maryland Board of Physicians.

The email thanked Maxim, which placed Kwiatkowski in hospitals in Maryland and other states, for letting the board know about unprofessional and unethical conduct by the radiographer. The board said it would investigate the issue.

The email prompted investigators to look harshly at the board's "seemingly deficient response" to Maxim's complaint about Kwiatkowski, the state report said. But it turns out the board never sent the email to Maxim. A Maxim lawyer contacted the office of the attorney general to say it couldn't authenticate the email. After an investigation, the company terminated the employee who provided it.

Maxim issued this statement Friday about the incident: "Immediately upon receiving information that the email might not be authentic, Maxim conducted a swift and thorough investigation. … At all times Maxim was forthcoming with the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene about its investigation and its results." 

Maxim also said Friday that it supports legislation pending in the General Assembly that would require medical staffing companies to be licensed by the state.

The state report criticized staffing companies for not divulging problems with Kwiatkowski.

Maxim continued to place Kwiatkowski in jobs after terminating his contract with the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center in May 2008 when he was caught with fentanyl syringes in his scrub pants and tested positive for narcotics.

In written Senate testimony, Maxim said that the Pittsburgh hospital did not disclose Kwiatkowski's drug test. Maxim said it only became aware of it recently when the hospital released it in connection with civil litigation.

Maxim said it had been told that an employee made an allegation about Kwiatkowski's drug use. Maxim sent him for a 10-panel drug screen, but he tested negative, it said. Maxim, therefore, did not disqualify him from future employment and sent him in late 2008 to Southern Maryland Hospital. He was fired from that hospital for falsifying time records and forging his supervisor's name on time sheets.

"If Maxim had been made aware of UPMC's drug results in 2008, Maxim would have terminated his employment and reported the conduct as necessary," the testimony said.

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