New York patients may be dismayed to hear that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported that a nurse may have infected two people with viruses after reusing syringes. It was believed that, as a result, two patients were exposed to the hepatitis C virus and two other patients were exposed to the hepatitis B virus.

The incidents occurred in a Texas hospital in 2015 after a nurse was seen leaving a syringe that was still partially filled out near a work computer. The nurse stated that she had been reusing the syringes to flush multiple patients' IV lines. She said that she was doing this as a cost-saving measure and that she believed it was safe as no fluids were being drawn into the syringes. She stated that she had been reusing syringes for six months.

The hospital was unaware that she had been reusing the syringes. As a result, it offered free screenings for multiple viruses, including HIV, HBV and HCV, to any patients who were under the nurse's care between mid-2014 and October 2015. Four patients were found to have contracted viruses.

Medical mistakes can occur if overworked nurses are not provided with the resources they need or proper training. If a patient is harmed as a direct result of nursing errors, a medical malpractice attorney may file a lawsuit against the nurse and the hospital. If additional treatment is needed to correct the worsened medical condition, the attorney may seek compensation for any medical bills and other losses that were directly caused by the mistake.

Source: Pharmacy Practice News, "Reusing Syringes to Flush IVs Transmitted HCV, maybe HBV", Marie Rosenthal, March 21, 2017

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