York hospital warns patients of possible HIV, hepatitis exposure
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[March 13, 2014]
NEW YORK (Reuters)
— A New York hospital on
Wednesday alerted more than 4,200 patients who may have received
insulin of possible exposure to hepatitis viruses and human
immunodeficiency virus (HIV) due to possible blood contamination,
officials and local media said.
South Nassau Communities Hospital in Oceanside on
Long Island, near New York City, said patients may have received
insulin from a pen reservoir — not a single-use disposable needle —
that could have been used on more than one patient.
"The risk of infection from this is extremely low," the hospital
said in a statement, adding it was recommending patients "be tested
for hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV."
When asked if anyone was confirmed to have been infected a hospital
spokeswoman said "not to my knowledge."
The pen-shaped insulin injector devices are often used by hospitals
to give the hormone to patients and contain a reservoir or
cartridge, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say.
The pens should be limited to one patient because regurgitation of
blood into the insulin cartridge can occur after injection, creating
a risk of blood-borne pathogen transmission, even when the needle is
changed, according to the CDC.
Some 200 of the more than 4,000 patients who were warned have signed
up for free blood testing, WABC-TV reported.
The hospital seems to have changed its policy on the devices, though
it was unclear when the change occurred.
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"South Nassau has already implemented a hospital-wide policy that
bans the use of insulin pens and permits only the use of
single-patient-use vials to administer prescribed insulin treatments
to patients," the statement said.
HIV can lead to AIDS, or the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, and
hepatitis refers to a group of viral infections that affect the
liver, according to the CDC.
(Reporting by Eric M. Johnson and
Elizabeth Daley; editing by Ken Wills)
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