DERBY, Conn. (AP) _ A Connecticut hospital on Friday urged more than 3,000 patients to be tested for hepatitis and HIV after discovering that insulin pens may have been improperly used on more than one patient.
Griffin Hospital in Derby said there is no evidence that misuse of the pens led to any disease transmissions, but patients should be tested for hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV as a precaution. It said the risk of disease transmission is extremely small.
Federal health agencies have been warning against sharing insulin pens for several years. The Food and Drug Administration issued an alert in March 2009 after learning that more than 2,000 patients may have been exposed at a Texas hospital between 2007 and 2009.
Griffin Hospital said in a news release that needles were not used on more than one patient.
“However, even when using a new needle, the possibility exists that a pen’s insulin cartridge can be contaminated through the backflow of blood or skin cells from one patient, and thus could potentially transmit an infection if used on another patient,” the hospital said.
The retractable needle that attaches to the insulin pen is removable, allowing reuse of the pen-like injector.
The notification letters were sent to more than 3,100 patients who were hospitalized between September 2008 and last week, and for whom an insulin pen was ordered. The hospital said it was “strongly encouraging” patients to be tested within 30 days of receiving the letters.
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(CBS Connecticut) –-Griffin Hospital in Derby is setting up special phone lines and a testing program for some 31-hundred patients hospitalized between September, 2008 and earlier this month. The hospital ordered insulin pens for the patients during their hospitalizations, but has found that the way the pens were used could have created a possibility of contamination.
Hospital President Pat Charmel says there have been no reports of any disease transmission, but as a precaution, a registered letter is being sent to each patient, saying that though new, sterile needles were used for each injection, multi-dose cartridge injectors may have been re-used, creating the possibility of “back flow” of blood or skin cells.
Charmel says dedicated phone lines (203) 732-1411 and (203) 732-1340 have been set up forpatients to make appointments for confidential testing, or with questions for a nurse or pharmacist. In addition, the hospital says patients will not be charged for any screening, testing, or counseling in connection with the alert and results will be provided within seven days to the patients and their doctors.
The hospital is recommending that anyone on whom such a device was used be tested for hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV as a precaution within the next thirty days.