Lifestyle & Belief

Buffalo VA hospital investigates possible HIV and Hepatitis exposure


A medical assistant administers an insulin shot to a diabetes patient.


Sajjad Hussain

The Buffalo Veterans Administration Hospital is investigating a possible patient exposure of HIV and Hepatitis strains via accidentally reused insulin pens.

700 diabetic patients may have been exposed to the diseases between October 19, 2010 and November 2012, according to a hospital statement and published reports cited by the Associated Press

The issue first arose during a routine inspection of the hospital's pharmacy on November 1, 2012, and the Buffalo News first published a story about the discovery on Friday. 

VA spokeswoman Evangeline Conley said the hospital "...discovered that in some cases, insulin pens were not labeled for individual patients, adding that "although the pen needles were always changed, an insulin pen may have been used on more than one patient."

“Immediate action was taken to ensure the insulin pens were labeled and only used according to pharmaceutical guidelines" once the discovery was made, said Conley, WKBW TV reported

Authorities have also said that the patients are at "very small risk," according to the Buffalo News. 

The needles used with the insulin pens were apparently changed with every single use, but contamination is still possible if bodily fluid had re-entered the insulin pens during an injection, Rep. Chris Collins told the Buffalo News.

The hospital is currently working to contact and test the 570 patients still living who may have been exposed to the reused pens, according to WKBW TV. 

More from GlobalPost: Series: The State of AIDS