More than 700 patients at the Buffalo Veterans Administration (VA) Center in Buffalo, New York may have been exposed to HIV, hepatitis B or hepatitis C. According to a hospital statement and published reports, the exposure was due to the accidental reuse of insulin pens.
Diabetic patients may have been exposed to the reused insulin pens between Oct. 19, 2010 and November 2012 and the problem was discovered by a routine pharmacy inspection last Nov. 1. The western New York members of Congress were notified by the VA of the possible exposure.
VA spokeswoman Evangeline Conley said the hospital "recently discovered that in some cases, insulin pens were not labeled for individual patient," and added that "although the pen needles were always changed, an insulin pen may have been used on more than one patient." According to the Institute for Safe Medication Practices, reusable insulin used by diabetics to inject insulin should not be used on more than one patient. Even with a fresh needle, contamination may have occurred if bodily fluid flowed back into the insulin pens.
When compared to peer nations, the United States currently has the highest prevalence of HIV infection for ages 15-49. See: http://www.examiner.com/article/us-health-compared-internationally-shorter-lives-poorer-health
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