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Contaminated Needle Lawsuit Filed Against Hospital Over Insulin Shot

A Chicago hospital faces a medical malpractice lawsuit from a woman who alleges that staff used contaminated needles to give her insulin shots, exposing her to a risk of infection with HIV, and hepatitis B and C. 

The complaint was filed against Rush University Medical Center earlier this month in Cook County Circuit Court by Ericka Maciel, according to a report by the Cook County Record.

The lawsuit indicates that Maciel was undergoing treatment at Rush University Medical Center on January 24, 2014, for gluteal abscess and polymicrobial sepsis. Because she has type 1 diabetes, Maciel requires three insulin shots per day. Maciel indicates that she was injected with a contaminated needle by a registered nurse at the hospital, Benjamin Gerlin.

A year later, on January 25, 2015, the hospital notified Maciel that Gerlin had used the incorrect insulin pen. The pen had previously been used on another patient who was diagnosed with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), hepatitis B and hepatitis C.

Maciel’s lawsuit against the medical center accuses it of negligence, medical battery, cross contamination of medical equipment, failure to follow medical procedures, and says the incident caused her unnecessary pain and suffering, and loss of enjoyment of normal life.

In August 2010, the FDA and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a joint safety alert reminding health care workers nationwide not to reuse needles. The reuse of needles is considered by the medical community an event which should never happen and for which there is no reasonable excuse.

Federal health officials say, however, that they have seen a steadily increasing number of blood borne hospital acquired infections over the past 15 to 20 years caused by the reuse of fingersticks, which are small lancets designed to cause a patient’s finger to bleed to get a small blood sample.

The most notable increase has been the spread of Hepatitis B infections in nursing homes, both in long-term care and assisted living settings. However, the increases are present in a wide variety of health care settings.

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