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Greg Webb
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Insulin Pen System In Beaumont Army Medical Center May Have Caused Blood-borne Disease

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Beaumont Army Medical Center, in Fort Bliss, Texas, has contacted 2,114 diabetes patients who have been treated at the hospital since August 2007 because they may be in danger of developing such blood-borne diseases as HIV or hepatitis. At the center, diabetes patients are treated with insulin injection pen systems that are designed with a reservoir of insulin for multiple uses on a single patient. Though a sterile needle is used for each patient, it is possible that the pens were used by more than one patient through the end of January. The commander of the facility claims transmission of the blood-borne disease from one patient to the other using the same insulin injection pen was unlikely, but one study showed blood was found to have traveled by the needle of the injection pens back into the reservoir of insulin where contamination may have occurred.

The error in administering the insulin came to light after two nurses reported concerns about patients using the same injection pens. An investigation was launched and the staff was retrained on the appropriate use of the insulin pens. Army officials said the injection pen system is used at nine military hospitals and clinics. Army Surgeon General Lt. Gen. Eric Schoomaker has ordered a review of the use of insulin pens throughout the entire branch of service. Jones Army Community Hospital potentially exposed fifteen patients to blood-borne diseases also due to the improper administration of insulin. Schoomaker has assured the exposed patients that their risk of developing a blood-borne disease is low. Officials at Beaumont are researching how staff members implemented the wrong procedure regarding the pens and are determined to restore the public’s confidence in its services.