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4,200 Hospital Patients Told to Get HIV, Hepatitis Tests

Staff may have injected insulin with used needles; hospital sending letters telling patients to get tested for HIV, hepatitis.

(File photo)
(File photo)

South Nassau Communities Hospital is telling thousands of patients to get hepatitis and HIV tests after staff members possibly injected them with used needles, according to Newsday.

A total of 4,247 patients have been sent letters telling them they may have been injected with insulin pens that were used on other patients at the Oceanside hospital, said the report.

The alert was sent out after hospital officials reportedly heard a nurse had given the okay administer the hormone “from an insulin pen reservoir -- not the pen's single-use disposable needle,” said the report. Those pens could have been used on more than one patient.

While no one was seen reusing the insulin pen reservoir, spokesman Damian Becker told Newsday a report was filed with the Department of Health when they heard of the incident.

Hospital officials said risk of infection is “extremely low” but testing is recommended, said the report.

Insulin pens, used on diabetes patients, are meant to be used once and discarded because of possible contamination. If used on more than one person, blood could effectively be taken from one individual and injected into the next and subject others to diseases.

Patients at risk should receive their letters by March 17, said the report.

200 people have already called the hospital in response to the letters, which were sent out "in phases," said the report.

South Nassau has reportedly banned insulin pens and has switched to using only single-patient-use vials.

Patients who were notified can arrange a free and confidential blood test at South Nassau by calling 516-208-0029.

opinion-ated March 12, 2014 at 08:05 PM
The State was in for the Hospitals inspection (JACHO )and they go around and ask staff questions. It was overheard by a State inspector, a Nurse saying its Ok to reuse the resivior on the pen that holds the insulin and change the needle between patients. This is not proper infection control protocol so it has to be assumed that she, or other staff members , have made this mistake. It may have never occured, but they cant assume it wasnt and so everyone must be tested. I dont know how they prove a patient who comes up positive was actually infected at the hospital and not at some other time in their life. Alot of hospitals have State reported incidents and lawsuits. It doesnt mean they close their doors.
opinion-ated March 12, 2014 at 08:06 PM
* I said "She".... but the Nurse could have been Male as well !
wendy March 12, 2014 at 10:24 PM
I feel so bad for the people who got letters .in the 80's,my sister had a blood transfusion during her ceasarian,then got a letter & had to be tested because the hospital thought it might have been HIV tainted blood she was transfused with,( pre screening time)..luckily she was fine but this is A few mos. ago a dr in another hospital I was getting post sandy illness testing done at suggested I get hep a & b preventative inoculations..I said absolutely ! you never know what's going to happen..where..(I hope their serums were o.k. )Now,people protect yourselves..you never know what's going to happen.. where..it's better to be safe than sorry.
Rich Holler March 13, 2014 at 08:06 AM
I think it s is a major news item. Wondering why it hasn't been picked up buy major outlets.
Verlia M. Brown March 13, 2014 at 08:26 AM
In this day and age this should not have happened.Infection control which this falls under should be strictly followed. In order to maintain your nursing license every four years a nurse nurse must take an infection control course. An investigation should be done and this nurse should be reported to the New York State Office of the Professions for professional misconduct. No magnetic status should be given to this hospital.American Nurse Credential Center should be informed. Stay strong folks and be positive. Good luck to all. Berlin m.Brown, RN.

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