Nurse At OK Hospital Reused
Needles On Patients

NORMAN, Oklahoma (Reuters) - Six people contracted hepatitis at an Oklahoma hospital and about 350 other patients were undergoing tests after a nurse at the facility reused hypodermic needles for injections on them, a hospital spokesman said on Wednesday.
Six patients at Norman Regional Hospital, near Oklahoma City, contracted the potentially fatal liver disease hepatitis-C from the tainted needles, he said.
Officials said nurse-anesthetist James C. Hill admitted reusing needles while injecting pain medication in patients, from Dec. 31, 2001 through Aug. 19 of this year.
"We have seen approximately 350 individuals who could possibly have been exposed," hospital spokesman Grant Farrimond said. "The hospital has contacted those individuals and offered to test them at their convenience."
About 200 have been tested so far, Farrimond said.
Farrimond said in that addition to hepatitis C and B, patients are also being tested for the presence of the HIV virus, adding no one so far has tested positive for HIV.
Hill and his supervising physician have been removed from the hospital and their privileges revoked, said Farrimond.
A lawsuit was filed in Norman on Wednesday against Hill and the supervising physician, Jerry W. Lewis, by a patient who received injections at the clinic.
The hospital said Hill used the same needle for at least 15 patients a day, but would not speculate why he reused needles. The lawsuit is charging the nurse with negligent and malicious behavior.
Farrimond said the pain clinic, which operated in the hospital, was privately staffed and operated by Lewis.
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From Ken Case
As a resident of Oklahoma I am outraged that such a thing could happen. However, as reported in the state's largest newspaper, The Daily Oklahoman,
it should be duly noted that while the so-called "nurse" admitted to reusing needles, the injections were said to have been made via an existing heparin lock device.
Such injections are given through an IV catheter tube and the needle is never actually inserted into the body of the patient.
At no time should a needle be reused and such conduct is simply an unacceptable practice. I just felt that in all fairness the admitted manner in which the needles were reused should be known. Thank You,
Ken Case
an Oklahoma Resident


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