By Jason McLure
LITTLETON, N.H., Nov 29 (Reuters) - A former New Hampshire hospital technician faces new federal charges for allegedly infecting more than 30 patients with hepatitis C using virus-tainted syringe needles he had previously used on himself.
David Kwiatkowski, 33, a traveling medical technician who had most recently worked at Exeter Hospital in southern New Hampshire, was charged with seven counts of tampering with a consumer product and seven counts of obtaining controlled substances by fraud, U.S. Attorney for the District of New Hampshire John Kacavas said on Thursday.
The charges replace a two-count indictment filed in June.
Prosecutors allege that Kwiatkowski, who has hepatitis C, stole syringes of the drug fentanyl intended for patients and injected himself with the anesthetic. He then refilled the syringes with saline solution, leaving the needles for the hospital to re-use on patients, they say.
Hepatitis C can cause serious liver damage and is responsible for more deaths in the United States annually than HIV.
The Justice Department says that Kwiatkowski learned he had the disease in June 2010 but patients continued to be injected with infected needles long afterward.
If convicted, he faces up to 10 years in prison for each product tampering charge and up to four years for each fraud count.
Kwiatkowski had also worked in states including Georgia, New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Arizona and Kansas since 2007. Patients from hospitals where Kwiatkowski formerly worked in Kansas, Maryland and New Hampshire have tested positive for the disease. (Editing by Paul Thomasch and Xavier Briand)