OLEAN, N.Y. (WIVB) - Three patients are suing Olean General Hospital, accusing the hospital of misusing insulin pens which may have led to the patients contracting hepatitis.
All three patients have tested positive for hepatitis. The lawsuits also name three insulin pen manufacturers that supplied Olean General with the pens. The three companies are Eli Lilly, Novo Nordisk Pharmaceutical Industries, and Sanofi-Scents U.S.
Brown and Chiari law firm is representing the three patients. Attorney John Elmore says one of his clients was his own Little League coach and the man told Elmore he could not have come down with the disease in any other way.
"Not a drug user, doesn't run around. He has been with the same wife for 27 years, he doesn't have tattoos. The fact that the hospital would be the source of that, I think, there is a very strong indication," Elmore said.
Attorneys contend federal officials warned health practitioners beginning in 2009 not to use the same pen on more than one patient and the makers' warnings need to be more assertive.
Attorney Don Chiari said, "We believe that the manufacturers should have taken a more proactive position with respect to this and elaborated on their very scant warnings."
But Olean General Hospital spokesman Dennis McCarthy said the hospital issued more than 1,900 letters to diabetes patients, urging them to be screened. And while eight have tested positive, there is little proof the hospital is at fault.
"We have reviewed over 250 clinical journals and there has been no evidence that we could find - or that maybe anybody could find - that an insulin pen has ever caused an infection in a hospital, in this country," McCarthy said.
Of the 1,900 patients who have received letters, 650 have been screened. So far, 20 tested positive, but after additional screening, that number was whittled down to eight.
Additional lawsuits are anticipated.
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