Connecticut Hospital Faces Lawsuit Over Sharing Insulin Pens

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Connecticut Hospital Faces Lawsuit Over Sharing Insulin Pens
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Griffin Hospital and Health Services in Derby, Connecticut is facing a class action lawsuit on behalf of patients who were administered insulin through a multi-use pen meant for one patient but used on multiple.

Patients who were injected with insulin via a multi-use pen at Griffin Hospital from September 2008 to May 2014 may have been exposed to the risk of infection, particularly from blood borne diseases such as hepatitis and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Although the hospital claims the risk of infection due to misuse of the insulin pens was low, they offered free testing to any patients who believe they might have suffered adverse effects.

Plaintiffs in the lawsuit allege that nurses within the facility knowingly used insulin pens meant for one patient each on multiple patients.

Multi-use pens are injector devices which contain an insulin cartridge with multiple doses of insulin. Each multi-use pen is intended to be used for a single patient, even though the retractable needle is disposable. Although these pens had multiple doses contained inside, hence the term “multi-use pen”, due to the possibility of blood and skin cells traveling up the needle into the device, it is recommended that each patient receive insulin through their own pen.

Since 2014, allegations have arisen claiming that as many as 11 of the employees in this hospital, although changing the needles, were stripping the patient’s identifying information from the pens to inject other patients with insulin from the same device. The complaint further alleges that the malpractice committed by these nurses occurred due to institutional failures by the hospital to employ policies prohibiting and preventing exactly this problem.

In 2014 the hospital’s CEO sent a letter to the patients in question regarding possible insulin pen misuse.

In 2014, the hospital issued an official statement, sent letters, and even opened a website to explain the situation of insulin pen misuse which was discovered via an internal investigation. The hospital offered free testing and even treatment at the hospital’s expense to anyone who tested positive for one of these blood-borne diseases after receiving insulin at the hospital. The risk of disease exposure was considered extremely small, and it is unclear how many patients if any suffered adverse health effects from the multiple uses. The primary questions of the lawsuit are whether or not Griffin Hospital’s employees violated an acceptable standard of care in their treatment of the patients who received insulin, and whether or not the hospital itself can be held liable for this alleged malpractice.

Approximately 3,100 former patients of the hospital are included in this class.

Superior Court Judge Linda Lager approved the class allowing the lawsuit to move forward. According to Lager, included in the class are “All patients of Griffin Hospital located in Derby, Connecticut, for whom a multi-dose insulin pen was prescribed during their hospitalization between September 1, 2008 and May 7, 2014 and to whom insulin was administered…” All potential class members will receive a portion of any damages awarded in a settlement or successful verdict of this case.

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