A second western New York hospital is notifying patients that they may have been exposed to HIV, hepatitis B, or hepatitis C through the improper sharing of insulin pens, hospital officials said today. Olean General Hospital was mailing letters to 1,915 patients who received insulin at the hospital from November 2009 through last week, advising them to call to arrange for blood testing. The risk of infection is low, hospital officials say, but they wanted patients to be aware of the possibility.
Hospital officials said the action follows an internal review conducted after the Veterans Affairs hospital in Buffalo discovered that more than 700 patients may have been exposed to blood-borne pathogens when multi-use pens intended for use by a single patient may have been used on more than one person. "Interviews with nursing staff indicated that the practice of using one patient's insulin pen for other patients may have occurred on some patients," says the president of the hospital's parent company, adding that Olean General knew of no cases of infection.