OCEANSIDE, N.Y. – A Long Island hospital is sending out more than 4,000 letters to patients recommending that they be tested for hepatitis and HIV because of the risk that they may have been exposed to the diseases via an insulin pen.
CBS New York reports that the letters from South Nassau Communities Hospital said patients may have received insulin from an insulin pen reservoir that could have been used more than once. The hospital says the needles themselves were never reused.
Hospital spokesman Damian Becker said no one was observed reusing the insulin pen reservoir, but a nurse was heard saying it was all right to do so. He says the hospital was recommending testing out of an “abundance of caution.”
The hospital says the risk of infection is “extremely low.”
Since the scare, South Nassau has implemented a hospital-wide policy that bans the use of insulin pens and now only permits single-patient-use vials to administer insulin treatments, CBS New York reports.
However, loved ones visiting patients at the hospital were still frightened to hear of the warning.
“It’s just shocking to hear something like that,” said hospital visitor Peter Vetro. “I just can’t believe that.”
The hospital has set up a toll-free hotline for patients to schedule a blood test. The number is 516-208-0029.