New York Hospital Exposed Patients To HIV And Hepatitis

Hospitals, Infections

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) has reported that there have been more than 150,000 patients impacted by unsafe injection practice since 2001. Patients have been exposed to blood-borne illnesses as a result of these unsafe injection practices.

Other federal health agencies have also warned against the sharing of insulin pens for several years. In March 2009 the Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) issued an alert once it learned that more than 2,000 patients may have been exposed at a Texas hospital between 2007 and 2009.

The improper sharing of insulin pens has a western New York hospital notifying patients that they may have been exposed to HIV, hepatitis B, or hepatitis C. Olean General Hospital is the second hospital in western New York to release such a warning during the month of January. The other hospital, VA Medical Center in Buffalo, also notified more than 700 patients earlier in January that due to the reusing of insulin pens they may have been exposed to chronic diseases.

Nearly 2,000 letters are being mailed to patients who received insulin at Olean General Hospital between November 2009 and the middle of January 2013. This action was taken after an internal review was conducted after the VA hospital in Buffalo discovered the possibility of patients being exposed to diseases over a two year period when multi use pens were used on more than one patient when they are intended to be used on only one person.

When the insulin pens were used on more than one patient the needles were changed between use but the risk of infection remained due to the stored insulin in the pen cartridge possibly being contaminated by a back flow of blood with each use. The patients are being advised to call and arrange for blood testing. The hospital wanted patient to be aware of the possibility of infection even though the risk is actually very low. Olean General Hospital has since removed the pens from use.

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