Hospitals in West NY cross using insulin pens

Long time since I've posted anything on here but I thought I should share this. Hospitals in West NY have been using insulin pens in multiple patients. Because of this, they are having over 2,000 patients be tested for bloodborne pathogens including HIV and Hepatitis.

I happened to be dx in Dec 09 and spent a week at Olean General Hospital in Olean, NY. I received a letter and went in to get my blood drawn earlier today.

The thing that made me most upset was the treatment I received today. The hospital was very unprofessional and treated me with no sincerity and no empathy at all. If anything they should be as apologetic as possible.

Yes, the chance of infection is minuscule but this is absolutely ridiculous that this practice was going on for over 3 years.

Here are the links to the news story.

I'm curious to hear people's reactions and if nothing else, make people more aware of the dangers of sharing insulin pens.

Thanks guys!

I was sent a link to one of the articles above by a friend today. After 20+ years of constant advertising about the dangers of sharing syringes, the hospitals don't follow minimal safeguards. It's disgusting.

One more reason to keep control over your own blood glucose management if you ever find yourself in a hospital or medical setting.

I'm sorry that you were blown off today. That's pretty shocking - are they trying to get sued?


I think the chances are less than miniscule, assuming they changed needles. They did, right?

Yes but perhaps that's enough, for a lawyer ;-)

Well even if the did not, blood, fluids etc can still be drawn back into the vial following an injection leaving it contaminated.

A class-action lawsuit is fully justified. This is not a case of too hot coffee. This practice has a real risk of bodily harm and is irresponsible and unprofessional. And this in the year 2013 - unbelievable.

This is a pen, not a syringe and vial. In my experience pens always drip after removal - meaning there is consistent positive pressure and therefore no draw back. If the needle is then removed and discarded, then I don't see any possible path into the pen's resevoir. This is based on my own observations; maybe I'm wrong. I just don't see it.

Realistically, I don't see any path for a pathogen assuming a pen is used and the needle is discarded and replaced after each use. Could you explain why you think this could be dangerous?

I believe a lawsuit is justified. If you look at the CDC website they clearly say not to share pens. "Insulin pens must never be used for more than one person. Regurgitation of blood into the insulin cartridge can occur after injection creating a risk of bloodborne pathogen transmission if the pen is used for more than one person, even when the needle is changed." Hope your tests turn out well.

In my experience the plunger mechanism of insulin pens is not as rigid as it should be. Normally the plunger can not revert but with the new pen designs that allow to dial-back this has changed. Thus the NovoPen4 for example must always be primed before use to make sure that the stamp is correctly aligned with the vial. Because of that you can not rule out that the vial might retract little amounts of liquid. I think this is especially true with hospital use on many patients for years. Obviously the hospital came to the same conclusion. I also think that all pens are certified for single person use only.

Disgraceful! I'm stunned, but shouldn't be. They bother swabbing skin with alcohol, which does absolutely nothing, & then use pens on multiple patients.

Cheaper for them to use vials & syringes. Wonder whose brilliant cost-saving idea it was to reuse pens. Even with changing needles, if they actually did, that's not a safe practice.

Report how you treated to the hospital administrator.

thanks for all the replies everyone. this is what i was told...

yes the risk is very very small, however it IS totally possible for bodily fluids to be absorbed into the reservoir of the pen. Insulin pens have always and will always be designed for one person. In fact, they are supposed to be labeled in a hospital setting.

Again, I am guessing they are doing this more to "cover their butt" however the fact that this was common practice is absolutely disgusting.

I'll keep you posted as more comes out.

Out of curiosity; if the hospital changes the pen needle, nothing should happen right? Or does injection from a pen needle occasionally reverse bodily fluids into the insulin pen reservoir?

I want to give the victims of this mistake some hope, it's very scary to learn that over 2,000 patients possibly shared the same insulin pen. This is horrible, I hope the hospital involved gives some sort of compensation for their terrible mistake even if there happens to be no blood borne pathogens transmitted.

good news for me, all test results came back negative.

Again, I knew the risk was super super low, yet there was a risk there. To clarify those questioning. Everytime a pen is used, a super super small drop of bodily fluids can be sucked up into the pen which then could have been transplanted into another patient. Again, chances are next to impossible that would actually happen.

Only an imbecile would think that it's okay to be injected with an insulin pen that had just been used on an HIV patient, even if the needle had just been replaced.

Good news Tim! Let's hope at least some good comes of this (no MORE hospitals being so idiotic)!

I'm glad your Ok Tim. You would think the medical community woud have known better.
This was about as stupid as drinking from the other side of the glass and not expecting backwash from the previous person.