Oceanside Hospital Alerts Thousands of Patients to Possible Blood Infections

An insulin syringe and pen (Credit: Bruce Blaus)
An insulin syringe and pen (Credit: Bruce Blaus)

South Nassau Communities Hospital is urging more than 4,200 patients to get blood tests after they may have been exposed to hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV at the Oceanside medical facility.

Hospital officials are voluntarily notifying a specific group of patients that may have received insulin from an insulin pen reservoir—not the pen’s single-use disposable needle—that may have been used on more than one patient, representatives of the medical center said in a statement.

“The risk of infection from this is extremely low, nonetheless, out of an abundance of caution, the hospital is recommending that patients receiving the notification be tested,” the statement read. “While the testing is voluntary, it is recommended.”

Damian Becker, a spokesman for the hospital, said the letters were sent out last month after a nurse was overheard saying in January that the insulin pen reservoirs are OK to reuse, at which time the nursing administrative team was notified.

The patients who are receiving notifications are being offered free and confidential blood testing services. Affected patients are recommended to schedule a blood test within 60 days of receiving the letter. About 300 patients have contacted the hospital so far.

The hospital said it is working with the New York State Department of Health on the issue. It also has banned the use of insulin pens and permitted only single-patient-use vials to administer prescribed insulin treatments to patients.

To inquire about testing, patients can call the hospital at 516-208-0029.