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4,247 Long Island patients at risk from insulin pen contamination

Two types of modern, pre-filled insulin syringes.
Two types of modern, pre-filled insulin syringes.

South Nassau communities Hospital in Oceanside, NY is issuing letters advising 4,247 patients to get tested for possible Hepatitis B, C and HIV due to the risk of infection from an insulin pen reservoir that was used more than once.

Insulin pens are pre-filled syringes meant to dispense insulin in a single diabetic patient. After attaching a needle, the user dials the proper dosage on the pen then pushes the plunger to administer the fluid. Although the reservoirs can be reused, they should only be done so by the same person since there is the potential for a patient’s blood to backflow into the pen cartridge following injection. Using the same pen on multiple people, however, may expose them to blood-borne infections. The needles are thrown out after each use.

According to hospital spokesman Damian Becker, “although the risk of infection is extremely low, South Nassau is recommending that all patients who received injections within the past few weeks come in for free and confidential blood-testing. Results take about two weeks. To make an appointment call 516 208-0029.
He also stated that since the first letters were sent February 22nd, the hospital has banned the use of insulin pens and now only allows the use of single-patient-use vials.