Times Herald-Record (Middletown, N.Y.) (05.21.2013)
On May 21, Catskill Regional Medical Center (CRMC) in Harris, N.Y., issued a news release warning some patients of possible HIV and hepatitis exposure, because the center may have re-used insulin pens on more than one patient between 2007 and May 2013. CRMC Spokesperson Rob Lee said they discovered this issue during “routine nursing education on the use of insulin pens.” In the news release, the center stated, “While CRMC is not aware of any contamination between patients, as a precautionary measure CRMC is recommending that those patients be tested for hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and HIV.” Lee further noted that CRMC is ascertaining how many patients might have been exposed and will send letters to the affected patients.
According to a 2012 CDC alert, an insulin pen is designed to be used several times, but should never be used on more than one patient. Although a new needle is used on each injection, blood can find its way into the insulin cartridge, producing the risk of a pathogen being transmitted from one patient to another. In 2009, after a report that patients were exposed at a Texas hospital, the Food and Drug Administration issued a notice to healthcare professionals that the pens should be used on only one patient.
This past winter, two western New York hospitals reported health scares due to the shared use of insulin pens. The Buffalo News reported that 700 patients at Buffalo Veterans Hospital could have been exposed, and the Olean General Hospital announced that 1,915 persons might have been exposed since 2009. Three Oleans patients claimed they contracted hepatitis and have filed a lawsuit against the hospital. However, Oleans Hospital has denied that those patients contracted hepatitis through the pens, according to the Buffalo News. Officials described the risk of transmission as low.
CRMC patients should call 1–800–277–4221 to schedule a blood test or ask questions.