NY Veterans Hospital May Have Exposed Over 700 Veterans to HIV

Insulin pens for diabetics may have passed HIV, Hepatitis B or C to others after being reused at The Buffalo Veterans Administration Center.

Normally, we take it for granted that hospitals are a safe haven for a person to go and receive quality treatment for both deadly and non-fatal illnesses.  But, that’s not always the case…as some of us know too well.

The Buffalo Veterans Administration Center may have exposed over 700 patients to HIV, Hepatitis B, or Hepatitis C when it was discovered during a routine pharmacy inspection November 1, that insulin pens used for diabetes patients were reused on other diabetes patients during the period of October 19, 2010 to November 2012, according to USA Today.

The incident was explained to The Associated Press by VA spokeswoman Evangeline Conley, who said:

“…the hospital ‘recently discovered that in some cases, insulin pens were not labeled for individual patients.’ She added that “although the pen needles were always changed, an insulin pen may have been used on more than one patient.’ “

The problem with sharing the insulin pens is that they can possibly extract bodily fluids from the last injection even after the needle or cartridge for the pen has been replaced. Rep. Chris Collins, a Republican who represents the Buffalo area, spoke with Dr. Robert A. Petzel, undersecretary for health at the Department of Veterans Affairs.

“His thought was that it’s a very, very low chance of passing infection,” Collins said. “But it’s not out of the realm of possibility, and that’s why they’re testing everyone,” Collins told the News.

How could such a mass or widespread blunder occur in this setting?  Is the workforce filling up with unqualified and/or unprofessional candidates?  Read more here.

-J.C. Brooks

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