700 Possibly Exposed to HIV at Buffalo VA

Insulin pens were accidentally reused at hospital
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 14, 2013 8:33 AM CST
700 Possibly Exposed to HIV at Buffalo VA
The Buffalo VA Hospital says that some 700 patients may have been exposed to HIV or hepatitis via the inadvertent re-use of insulin pens.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – More than 700 patients at the Buffalo VA Medical Center may have been exposed to HIV, hepatitis B, or hepatitis C because of accidental reuse of insulin pens, says the Veterans Administration. Authorities said there is a "very small risk" for the diabetic patients who may have been exposed to the reused insulin pens between Oct. 19, 2010 and November 2012. During a routine pharmacy inspection on Nov. 1, the hospital "discovered that in some cases, insulin pens were not labeled for individual patients," a spokeswoman says. "Although the pen needles were always changed, an insulin pen may have been used on more than one patient."

The spokeswoman said that the hospital "immediately changed its procedures." A Buffalo-area lawmaker says he spoke with the VA's undersecretary for health, and that "his thought was that it's a very, very low chance of passing infection. But it's not out of the realm of possibility, and that's why they're testing everyone." The VA said it is offering free blood tests to rule out any infections. (Read more Department of Veterans Affairs stories.)

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