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Beware of Insulin Pen Infections, Another New York Hospital Warns

Filed February 22nd, 2013 F.A. Kelley

Patients at a New York hospital are being notified that they may have been exposed to HIV, hepatitis B or hepatitis C due to the improper sharing of insulin pens.

Olean General Hospital has been mailing letters to 1,915 patients who received insulin at the hospital from November 2009 through last week, encouraging them to call to schedule for blood testing, Yahoo News said. This is the second New York hospital to warn of pen insulin infection.

The letters began being sent because an internal review conducted after the Veterans Affairs hospital in Buffalo found more than 700 patients may have been exposed to blood-borne pathogens over a two-year period when multi-use pens intended for use by a single patient may have been used on more than one person, said Yahoo News. Interviews with nursing staff revealed that the practice of using one patient’s insulin pen for other patients may have taken place.

Olean General had not identified specific patients who may have received an injection from another patient’s pen and have not been made aware of any infections, to date, Yahoo News said. The situation is similar to the one in Buffalo, in which needles were changed with each use of the insulin pens. In the Buffalo hospital, the risk of infection remained because stored insulin in the pen cartridge could have become contaminated by a back flow of blood with each use, Yahoo News explained.

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