4,000 Long Island Hospital Patients Possibly Exposed To HIV, Hepatitis

insulin pen lawsuit long island

Long Island’s South Nassau Communities Hospital may soon be facing medical malpractice lawsuits, as more than 4,000 of the facility’s patients may have been infected with HIV and/or Hepatitis. The breaking story was just reported by ABC News, which indicated the threat was traced back to a reused insulin pen.

“It’s actually very scary,” said Andra Vetro, a visitor at South Nassau, “because you come to the hospital when you’re sick, and you don’t hope to get even worse while you’re inside the hospital.”

The Oceanside hospital said that thousands of diabetes patients may have been given insulin injections from a pen reservoir tip that might have been reused on more than one individual.

Long Island hospital says risk of infection is low

A spokesman for the Long Island hospital issued a statement indicating that while “the risk of infection from this is extremely low, nonetheless, out of an abundance of caution, the hospital is recommending that patients receiving the notification be tested for hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV.” The estimated 4,000 diabetes patients who may now be at risk will soon be receiving a letter from the hospital.

Insulin pens used by the facility come equipped with disposable needles, which were properly discarded between patients. However, it seems that attending nurses failed to use a fresh pen, and in doing so, infected blood could have back-flowed into the reservoir tip, contaminating the insulin.

South Nassau Communities Hospital is now offering free and confidential blood testing to patients in an attempt to encourage prompt screening for Hepatitis or HIV infection. While this testing is not mandatory, they are asking patients to come in within 60 days of receiving their letter.

Symptoms of hepatitis – a type of liver inflammation and injury – are often vague and may go undetected at first. Loss of appetite, fatigue, aching joints, mild fever and abdominal pain are usually early signs of the condition, which can be chronic in nature.  Throughout the globe, an estimated 250 million people have hepatitis C, while 300 million are carriers of hepatitis B. Plenty of rest and drug therapy may provide relief for some, while Hep C is the leading cause of cirrhosis (liver scarring) and cancer of the liver.

An HIV infection is infinitely more daunting, despite major improvements with Anti-Retroviral Therapy (ART). At present, there is still no known cure for HIV or AIDS, though patients infected with the human immunodeficiency virus may remain healthy if they take proactive measures.

Insulin pen reuse is not uncommon

Long Island Newsday reports that in 2008, Nassau University Medical Center alerted 840 patients that nurses may have used insulin pens on multiple patients. So rampant were the reported incidents of hospital negligence that in 2009, the FDA published an alert reminding medical workers that insulin pens are designed for single use with only one patient.

Since this most recent incident, South Nassau Hospital has barred the use of insulin pens and only allows single-use vials to give insulin treatments.

Hospital malpractice attorneys in Long Island

Representing NY malpractice victims for more than 45 years, The Sanders Firm is offering free and confidential case reviews to all Long Island hospital patients during this stressful time.  We understand the life-altering ramifications of this potential blood contamination and are prepared to answer all questions regarding legal liability.

To speak with a New York medical malpractice attorney today, please call 1.800.FAIR.PLAY. You should never have to bear the financial burden of a hospital’s mistake. Resources

  1. CBS New York, L.I. Hospital: Reused Insulin Pen Part May Mean Hepatitis, HIV Risk For Patients https://newyork.cbslocal.com/2014/03/11/l-i-hospital-reused-insulin-pen-part-may-mean-hepatitis-hiv-risk-for-patients/
  2. NewsDay, South Nassau Hospital alerting 4,247 patients of possible blood contamination https://www.newsday.com/news/health/south-nassau-hospital-alerting-4-247-patients-of-possible-blood-contamination-1.7359969?firstfree=yes
  3. NIH Medline Plus, Hepatitis: Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment & Prevention https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/magazine/issues/spring09/articles/spring09pg25.html