Army Believed to Have Infected 16 With HepatitisMar 12, 2009 | Parker Waichman LLP Media outlets are breaking with news that Army officials are confirming that 16 patients have tested positive for hepatitis b and c. The Associated Press (AP) reported that the Army said the patients were likely exposed to the dangerous blood borne illnesses because of improper injection practices.
The 16 patients at the William Beaumont Army Medical Center were just some of the over 2,000 diabetics who might have been exposed to hepatitis b (HBV) and hepatitis c (HBC) and other blood borne illnesses, said the AP. It sees that multiple patients were administered injections from the same insulin pen, it noted. Smart Brief said that, according to the El Paso Times, each insulin pen is meant to be used by one individual, but the insulin pens were injected into multiples patients from August 2007 until the end of January. Journal Now said the program “systematically” injected multiple patients from the same pen; Lieutenant Colonel Sandy LaFon said that it remains unclear if the HBV and HBC infections originated from the shoddy injections or if there were previously undiagnosed infections.
Meanwhile, earlier this year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that, based on its decade-long review, over 60,000 patients have been placed at risk for potentially deadly, blood-borne infectious diseases. According to the CDC, over the past ten years, tens of thousands of American patients have been asked to undergo HBV and HCV testing because proper infection control practices were not followed.
The CDC review of outbreak data indicated that, in the past 10 years, there were 33 identified outbreaks that occurred outside of hospitals in 15 states, with 12 occurring in outpatient clinics, six taking place in hemodialysis centers, and 15 happening in long-term care facilities, for a total of 450 people acquiring HBV or HCV infections. Hepatitis C and B are both forms of viral hepatitis transmitted by infected blood, C causes chronic liver disease and B causes fever, debility, and jaundice. HIV, another blood borne disease, is a retrovirus leading to AIDS and also transmitted by blood. Full-blown AIDS is invariably fatal.
The CDC reported that patients were exposed to the viruses because health care personnel did not follow basic infection control procedures and “aseptic” techniques in injection safety. It has long been considered routine for patients to be subjected to the transmission of such infections while receiving health care and the CDC explained that syringe reuse and medication, equipment, and device blood contamination were common reasons for the exposure problems.
Also last year, news broke about the Dix Hills Doctor scandal in which Dr. Harvey Finkelstein was found to have been improperly administering medications from mutlt-use vials, endangering thousands of his patients. Finkelstein is the Dix Hills, New York doctor who the state Department of Health says put thousands of patients at risk to blood-borne pathogen infections such as hepatitis B and C and HIV/AIDS by reusing syringes. Finkelstein most recently settled a medical malpractice lawsuit with a Syosset man who claimed he contracted hepatitis C in Finkelstein’s office. Finkelstein continues to practice and has now settled an unprecedented 11 malpractice lawsuits in eight years.