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Hospital Notifying Nearly 2,000 Patients Of Possible HIV, Hepatitis Exposure

OLEAN, N.Y. — A second western New York hospital is notifying patients that they may have been exposed to HIV, hepatitis B or hepatitis C through the improper sharing of insulin pens, hospital officials said Thursday.

Olean General Hospital was mailing letters to 1,915 patients who received insulin at the hospital from November 2009 through last week, advising them to call to arrange for blood testing. The risk of infection is very low, hospital officials said, but they wanted patients to be aware of the possibility.

Hospital officials said the action follows an internal review conducted after the Veterans Affairs hospital in Buffalo discovered more than 700 patients may have been exposed to blood-borne pathogens over a two-year period when multi-use pens intended for use by a single patient may have been used on more than one person.

"Interviews with nursing staff indicated that the practice of using one patient's insulin pen for other patients may have occurred on some patients," said Timothy Finan, president and chief executive of Upper Allegheny Health System, the parent company of the Olean hospital.

Olean General had not identified any specific patients who may have received an injection from another patient's pen and knew of no cases of infection, Finan said in a news release.

"Regardless, to the extent there may be a chance, however remote, that any patient was provided insulin from an insulin pen other than their own, Olean General Hospital has decided to be proactive and aggressive with respect to notification of our patients," the release said.

As was the case in Buffalo, needles were changed with each use of the insulin pens, the Olean hospital said. The risk of infection remained, however, because stored insulin in the pen cartridge could have become contaminated by a back flow of blood with each use.

"We are very aware that while the risk of infection from insulin pen re-use is extremely small, cross-contamination from an insulin pen is possible," Finan said.

Federal health agencies have been warning against sharing insulin pens for several years. The Food and Drug Administration issued an alert in March 2009 after learning that more than 2,000 patients may have been exposed at a Texas hospital between 2007 and 2009.

A clinical alert from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last year came amid continued reports of the practice.

The pens have been removed from use at Olean General. They were never used at a second hospital in the Upper Allegheny Health System, Bradford Regional Medical Center in Pennsylvania, Finan said.

Revelations of the issue at the VA hospital led the Department of Veterans Affairs Inspector General to initiate a review of the Buffalo hospital.

by Anonymousreply 1301/26/2013

R1, what the Fuck does your post have to do with this story?

by Anonymousreply 201/25/2013

Are these careless hospitals going to be punished?

by Anonymousreply 401/25/2013

There are no reused needles, r5. The insulin comes in a pen that holds multiple doses of insulin. Every patient who is on insulin would get their own pen clearly labeled with the patients name, room number and how many units of insulin are to be given and how often. Some patients may have pens for long acting insulin and regular insulin. The dose is calibrated by twisting a dial on the pen that measures out the exact dose to be given. Clean, fresh, disposable needles are then screwed into the tip of the pen and the needle portion is discarded in a sharps container after the dose is administered. The pen is stored in the refrigerator in the medication room. I never liked giving insulin this way. I much preferred to draw up the proper dose from a vial of insulin with a disposable needle. I always feared it might be possible to make a mistake with the dosing due to the dial on the pen. It never ocurred to me to use one patients pen on another patient. It is a sad fact that due to staffing shortages and increased patient care loads that nurses sometimes look for shortcuts. It doesn't make it right but it does happen.

by Anonymousreply 701/25/2013

Thank you R7. I was confused, possibly because of the unusual hour.

I'm aware of the "dial-a-dose" insulin pens, but did not know they are used for hospital in-patients.

Common sense should tell anyone that a pen prescribed for a specific patient should never be used on other patients!

by Anonymousreply 801/25/2013

Wouldn't it be horrible if a hospital spread blood borne disease so easily?

by Anonymousreply 901/25/2013

Happens more often than you'd think r9

by Anonymousreply 1001/25/2013


by Anonymousreply 1201/25/2013

wow, r11. So far, you have revealed yourself to be a racist and a homophobe. Care to throw in a bit of misogny and make it a trifecta of hate?

by Anonymousreply 1301/26/2013
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