Catskill Regional Medical Center (Harris Hospital) issued a warning Tuesday that some patients might have been exposed to HIV and hepatitis by the shared use of insulin injection pens.
The Harris hospital alerted patients in a news release that insulin pens might have been reused on more than one patient between 2007 and May 2013.
“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,” the news release said.
Hospital spokesman Rob Lee said the issue was uncovered during “routine nursing education on the use of insulin pens.”
Lee said the hospital is investigating to determine how many patients might have exposed. Affected patients will be notified by letter.
An insulin pen is designed to be used several times but should never be used on more than one patient, according to a 2012 alert from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Although a new needle is used on each injection, blood can be regurgitated into the insulin cartridge, creating a risk that a pathogen can be transmitted from one patient to another.
The shared use of insulin pens caused a health scare at two western New York hospitals this winter.
The Buffalo News reported that 700 patients at Buffalo Veterans Hospital could have been exposed. Olean General Hospital also alerted people that 1,915 people might have been exposed since 2009.
Three patients filed a lawsuit against Olean claiming to have contracted hepatitis but the hospital is denying those patients contracted hepatitis through the pens, according to the Buffalo News report. Officials described the risk of transmission as low.
Read more at Times Herald Record.