Buffalo VA May Have Exposed 700 Patients To Used Insulin Pens

A Veterans Administration Center in Buffalo, New York hay have exposed more than 700 patients to a potential risk of bloodborne diseases by reusing insulin pens on multiple people. 

Patients treated at the Buffalo Veterans Administration Center are being informed that they may have been exposed to a potential risk of HIV, hepatitis B or hepatitis C, after it was discovered that the center may have reused insulin pens on multiple patients between October 19, 2010 and November 2012. The insulin pens were reused because they had not been marked for individual patient use.

VA officials report that the actual needles used to inject patients were not reused, but warned that there is a small chance that bodily fluids could have flowed back into the pen and been injected into another patient. Even though the pens are designed to be reusable, they are only supposed to be used on one patient, officials said. The possible exposure was discovered during a routine primary inspection last year.

While officials say there is a very low chance of infection, the VA wants to test all of the exposed patients to be certain and is offering those affected free blood tests.

The incident is reminiscent of problems that occurred at several VA hospitals in 2008 and 2009, which led to thousands of patients being exposed to potential disease and is believed to have led to the infection of a number of veterans.

Those infections were linked to colonoscopy problems at VA centers in Tennessee, Georgia and Florida. The clinics were linked to the use of contaminated endoscopic equipment used for colonoscopy tests and ear, nose and throat exams.

Nearly 11,000 veterans had to be tested and several tested positive for HIV and hepatitis C. Human error and improper training has been blamed for equipment not being sterilized between patients and other improper procedures that potentially exposed veterans treated to bodily fluids of other patients.

The colonoscopy contamination issues were first discovered in December 2008, at the Alvin C. York Medical Center in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. A subsequent review of procedures at all VA Clinics led to the identification of additional issues in Miami and at the Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center in Augusta, Georgia.

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