South Nassau Communities Hospital Insulin Pen Use Exposes Patients to HIV, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C

By Paul D. Rheingold

The revelation that South Nassau Communities Hospital had been improperly reusing insulin pens, exposing patients to HIV and hepatitis B and C viruses, fits closely within our firm's field of practice. We had investigated the transmission of disease two years ago when a similar banned practice had been used in two hospitals in western New York.

Beginning late last month, the Long Island hospital sent letters to 4247 patients who had received insulin injections through the use of insulin pens. They warned them that they had learned that some nurses on the staff had refilled and reused the pens, rather than discarding them as required. (This would be done to save the hospital money.)

In 2011 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued this statement: "Insulin Pens Must Never be Used for More than One Person." It warned that this practice allows the spread from one patient to the next of the hepatitis and HIV virus. Nonetheless, there have been sporadic reports around the country of hospitals violating this rule, as evidenced just now by South Nassau.

Our firm is willing to review any case where a patient at South Nassuau Communities Hospital, after exposure to an insulin pen at the hospital, has been diagnosed with HIV or hepatitis B or C. Since we are a law firm and not in the health care field, we do not deal with persons who have concerns about exposure, however.

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