Updated 02/26/2013 07:32 PM
Lawsuit filed over misused insulin pens
A lawsuit has been filed on behalf of three patients potentially infected with hepatitis C through re-used insulin pens at an area hospital. YNN's Meg Rossman has more on the suit, and the hospital's response.
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BUFFALO, N.Y. — "Filing a lawsuit will help us learn and get to the bottom of this insulin pen use,” attorney Donald Chiari said.
At issue: was insulin pen use at Olean General Hospital the source of at least three cases of hepatitis C?
"This is a man that's not a drug user, doesn't run around, been with the same wife for 27 years, doesn't have tattoos,” attorney John Elmore said. “So the fact that the hospital would be a source of that, I think is a very strong indication."
That's a description of just one of three clients Elmore is representing in a lawsuit filed Monday, citing negligence on the part of OGH, the Upper Allegheny Health System, and three drug companies. It's the first suit filed locally since the hospital told 1,900 patients that insulin pens may have been re-used between November 2009 and January 2013, putting them at risk for hepatitis B, C and HIV.
"We really believe that there will be no connection with an insulin pen to Olean General Hospital," OGH spokesman Dennis McCarthy said.
McCarthy said so far, 650 patients and counting have been tested. While 20 initially tested positive, that number dropped to eight after a second round of tests. He said that false positives are common with hepatitis testing and expects that number could drop even lower.
"Our research has shown, looking at clinical documents, that an insulin pen has never been seen to cause blood infection in any hospital in this country."
Despite that, attorneys are going forward with the suit to find out one way or another, saying the stress from testing alone is worth a suit and Chiari expects more to be filed in the coming weeks.
"There will be more," he said.
Manufacturers Novo Nordisk, Sanofi and Eli Lilly were also named in the suit that seeks unspecified damages.
OGH officials are continuing to encourage patients to get tested for Hepatitis B and C as well as HIV.