OLEAN, NY - For the second time this month, a Western New York hospital is notifying patients of a potential health concern regarding the possible re-use of insulin pens.
Olean General Hospital is sending information packets to some 1,900 patients who were treated with an insulin pen between November, 2009 and January 16th, 2013.
Hospital officials emphasized there is no documentation of the transmission of any blood borne infections during the stay of any patient who received insulin during that time, and the hospital has not identified a single patient who ever received an injection from another patient's insulin pen.
As a precaution, the hospital is recommending anyone who received an insulin injection from a pen during the time frame be tested for hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and HIV. The information sent also recommends they be retested for HIV three months after their last pen injection at Olean General and for hepatitis B and C six months after their last injection at the hospital. There will be no charge for any screenings, testing or counseling provided by the hospital.
Anyone with questions or concerns can call 716-375-7590 or 1-888-980-1220. That call center will be staffed from 7 A.M. to 8 P.M. seven days a week.
Officials say re-usable pens have been removed from Olean General and have never been used at Bradford Regional Medical Center, which is also a member of the Upper Allegheny Health System.
This action follows a similar health alert at the VA Medical Center in Buffalo. "Recent news stories brought to light problems with the inappropriate re-use of insulin pens at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Buffalo," said Upper Allegheny Health System President and CEO Timothy Finan. "This situation prompted Olean General to initiate its own review and audit of the use of insulin pens at the hospital. Interviews with nursing staff indicated that the practice of using one patient's insulin pen for other patients may have occurred on some patients."
"I want to emphasize that we have been unable to identify a single hospitalized patient who ever received an insulin injection from an insulin pen that had been used on another patient," Finan continued. "Regardless, to the extent there may be a chance, however remote, that any patient was provided insulin from an insulin pen other that their own, Olean General Hospital has decided to be proactive and aggressive with respect to notification of our patients. We are very aware that while the risk of infection from insulin pen re-use ie extremely small, cross contamination from an insulin pen is possible."