At least 13 people have tested positive for hepatitis, after undergoing screening offered by Olean General Hospital because of the possibility that insulin pens were inadvertently reused, according to a report in the Olean Times Herald on Thursday.
At least one former patient reportedly plans to sue the hospital system, after claiming to have been infected when injected with an insulin pen at the hospital last year.
Those are the two latest developments since last month when the hospital mailed 1,915 patients letters recommending they seek testing, after an internal review raised the possibility that some of them may have received an injection from another patient’s insulin pen.
The issue in Olean followed news that 716 patients at Buffalo Veterans Affairs Medical Center may have been exposed to HIV, hepatitis B or hepatitis C for the same reasons.
Cattaraugus County Public Health Director Dr. Kevin Watkins told the Board of Health this week that the recent testing revealed 12 people tested positive for hepatitis C and one person for hepatitis B, the newspaper reported.
But it’s not clear exactly how those people may have been infected.
Both the commissioner and Olean General said the hospital “has not identified a single patient who ever received an insulin injection from another patient’s insulin pen.”
The hospital said Thursday that it could not go into details about the testing of patients or results, but “there is no documentation at this time of the transmission of any blood-borne infections during the stay of any patient who received insulin by an insulin pen at OGH from November 2009 to Jan. 16, 2013.”
Watkins told the newspaper that those who tested positive will be retested to confirm the diagnosis.
Meanwhile, the Olean paper also quoted John Elmore, an attorney with Brown Chiari, that he plans to file papers against the hospital in Cattaraugus County Supreme Court on behalf of a client who claims to have been infected with hepatitis when being injected with an insulin pen at the hospital last year.
Neither Watkins nor Elmore returned calls from The Buffalo News seeking comment Thursday.