Long Island Hospital Contamination Puts Thousands at Risk of HIV, Hepatitis

More than 4,000 residents of Long Island, New York are receiving notices about the potential for serious infection by a hospital that treated them. Patients treated for diabetes at South Nassau Communities Hospital may have received insulin injections through a shared insulin pen reservoir, exposing them to possible hepatitis or HIV. The hospital is recommending patients undergo blood tests to rule out a possible infection within 60 days of receiving their notifications.

Long Island residents affected by this news may want to take legal action against the hospital for exposing them to potentially deadly infection without patients’ knowledge. They are encouraged to contact the premier Long Island hospital malpractice team of Edelman, Krasin and Jaye to discuss their legal options. In some cases, patients may be eligible for compensation for emotional distress, medical bills and punitive damages against the hospital.

Long Island hospital infection

According to a report at CBS New York, South Nassau Communities Hospital sent out 4,247 letters to patients who might have been exposed to potential infection. Those patients were treated for diabetes via insulin injections between March 2011 and January 2014. Insulin pen reservoirs may have been re-used during this timeframe, although no one at the hospital knows for sure if this was actually the case.

The alerts were sent after a nurse at the hospital was overheard telling another staff member it was acceptable to reuse insulin pen reservoirs. These chambers hold multiple doses of insulin, which are delivered by disposable needles. Although needles are changed for each patient, it is possible that blood from one patient could back-flow into the reservoir, contaminating the insulin inside.

A hospital spokesperson told CBS that while the risk was “extremely low,” the hospital is sending out notifications to all patients out of an “abundance of caution.” Patients are advised to undergo testing for hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV. A free hotline has been established to allow patients to schedule their blood test through the hospital.

Patients who are receiving the notifications are finding the possibility of a Long Island hospital infection very distressing. One patient described the news to CBS, “Shocking – very shocking and disturbing. Someone screwed up somewhere.”

Since the notifications were sent, South Nassau Communities Hospital has changed their policies regarding insulin treatments. Now, patients are treated with single-use syringes to prevent future contamination from occurring. However, the new policy does little to ease the fears of those exposed to potential dangers from previous insulin treatments at the hospital.

Risks of cross contamination

Cross contamination is a serious type of hospital negligence that can expose patients to devastating infections, including hepatitis, HIV, pneumonia, tuberculosis and Creutzfeldt Jakob Disease. Infection after surgery, sometimes caused by contaminated instruments, is one of the primary causes of preventable injury and death for hospital patients today. Even more tragic is the fact that these incidences may be easily avoided by simply following protocol and sterilization procedures when preparing instruments and medications for patient treatment.

Our Long Island medical malpractice lawyers can help

Edelman, Krasis and Jaye understand the distress possible exposure brings. Our team of NY medical malpractice attorneys works with Long Island residents to pursue compensation for medical expenses, emotional trauma, lost wages and other possible losses. We offer skilled representation to those who have been harmed by the very professionals that were trusted for competent medical treatment.

Contact our offices today at 1-800-469-7429 to schedule a free case evaluation with one of our Long Island personal injury lawyers.