A Wisconsin health clinic has warned that 2,345 patients may have been exposed to HIV, hepatitis, or other blood-borne diseases by a nurse who improperly used diabetic injection devices. The nurse, whose job involved teaching newly diagnosed diabetics how to use insulin pens, used the same pen every time when demonstrating the device on patients, Reuters reports. She changed the needle each time but backwashes of blood may have contaminated the device itself.
Clinic officials say the insulin pen was intended for use on oranges or pillows, not people. The nurse, who left her job two weeks ago after the misuse of the device was uncovered, worked at various Dean Clinic locations. The clinic is trying to track down each patient she treated over the last five years, though the clinic's chief executive notes the risk is small, as the HIV virus degrades within days, and hepatitis within a month. "While this is a serious matter, I don't believe there was anything malicious," he says. (Read more infection stories.)