Medical Malpractice and Personal Injury Law Blog

3,100 Patients Join Class Action Lawsuit After Hospital Reuses Insulin Pens

Posted by Briggs Bedigian | Nov 21, 2016 | 0 Comments

More than 3,100 patients joined in a class action lawsuit against a hospital that re-used insulin injection pens on multiple patients. As a result, the patients may have contracted blood-borne diseases, including HIV.

Insulin pens provide a convenient way of injecting insulin. They look like pens and use multi-dose vials of insulin with single-use, retractable needles. Even though the insulin pens are designed for single-person use, employees at the Connecticut hospital being sued used the pens on multiple patients, replacing the used, disposable needles with a new, sterile needles after each use.

Though the needles were replaced, the possibility exists, according to the lawsuit, that a pen's insulin cartridge can be contaminated through the backwash of blood or skin cells from one patient, thus potentially transmitting an infection, such as hepatitis, HIV or other blood-borne illnesses if used on another patient.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are so concerned about the pathogens that can be spread by using the same insulin pens for multiple patients, they issued recommendations, including the prompt notification and offer of blood testing for patients who are injected with shared insulin pens.

“Use of insulin pens for more than one person, like other forms of syringe reuse, imposes unacceptable risks and should be considered a ‘never event,' ” according to the CDC website.

In 2014, the Connecticut hospital mailed letters to 3,149 patients advising them that between late 2008 and mid-2014, hospital staff “may have misused” insulin pens. The hospital offered these patients free blood testing and treatment for anyone who tested positive for previously undiagnosed blood-borne diseases.

The hospital admitted that five nurses may have “misused” the pens and said the employees would be “re-educated.” However, the lawsuit claims as many as 11 hospital employees re-used insulin pens on multiple patients.

And they were not the only ones. Even after a 2009 alert by the Food and Drug Administration about the potential danger of using the insulin pens for multiple patients, many healthcare practitioners continued sharing the pens, according to the Institute for Safe Medication Practices. Among those affected were:

  • 2,114 patients at a Texas Army medical center in 2009
  • 2,345 patients at a Wisconsin clinic in 2011
  • 716 patients at a New York Veterans Affairs medical center in 2013
  • 1,915 patients at a New York general hospital in 2013
  • 3,149 patients at a Connecticut hospital in 2014

If you have been harmed as a result of negligence by a medical professional or if a loved one has died, you may be entitled to compensation. Call the offices of trial attorneys Charles Gilman and Briggs Bedigian at 800-529-6162 or contact them online. The firm handles cases in Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C.

About the Author

Briggs Bedigian

H. Briggs Bedigian (“Briggs”) is a founding partner of Gilman & Bedigian, LLC.  Prior to forming Gilman & Bedigian, LLC, Briggs was a partner at Wais, Vogelstein and Bedigian, LLC, where he was the head of the firm's litigation practice.  Briggs' legal practice is focused on representing clients involved in medical malpractice and catastrophic personal injury cases. 

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