Unsafe Injections


When you roll up your sleeve to get an injection do you ever think about asking the doctor or nurse whether they are reusing the needle? Most people would never think to, but unsafe injections are a serious and potentially deadly problem.

The recent articles regarding thousands of patients in upstate New York who may have been exposed to life threatening diseases due to hospitals reusing insulin pens are only the most recent example of how unsafe injection practices can expose patients to deadly illnesses. The CDC has estimated that more than 150,000 patients nationwide have been impacted by unsafe injection practices that exposed them to life threatening blood borne illnesses.

The CDC has issued lengthy guidelines for medical professionals, which stress that doctors and medical professionals must NEVER use insulin pens or fingerstick devices for more than one person, and they can NEVER re-use needles or administer medication from a single dose vial to multiple patients.

Despite these clear mandates, unsafe injections are a huge problem in New York. In October 2009, 4,500 patents treated by a Manhattan anesthesiologist received letters from NYC urging them to get tested for hepatitis B and C and HIV because the doctor had reused syringes while administering anesthesia to patients. In 2007, the Department of Health notified 8,000 patents of another anesthesiologist that the doctors had reused syringes thereby exposing them to Hepatitis C.

In Michigan the Senate criminalized unsafe injections, and voted to prohibit a health care provider from knowingly reusing, recycling, or refurbishing for reuse a “reprocessed single-use medical device” on a patient unless it meets certain sterility standards. Violators are subject to a 10 years in prison and a $50,000 fine for violations. Given the thousands of New Yorkers put at risk by unsafe injections here, our legislature should consider doing the same. What do you think?



  1. Amy January 31, 2013 at 3:06 pm

    The number of reported stories of unsafe injections over the last several years is very disturbing. I am sure there are even more that go unreported for the patients who do not realize that they have been subjected to poor medical practices. If memory serves me correctly, several of the physicians who were improperly injecting patients did not even have malpractice insurance. Our legislature needs to start protecting patients rather than the pharmaceutical companies, physicians and insurance companies!

  2. Michelle February 1, 2013 at 6:16 am

    This is unbelievable! You submit to an injection in hopes of curing (or at least helping) an illness… to find out later that it actually made you sick is terrifying! I hope the NYS legislature follows Michigan’s lead and takes precautions to prevent this from continuing to happen in NY.

  3. Deborah February 1, 2013 at 12:32 pm

    Given the prevalence of unsafe injection practices, it’s apparent that the CDC guidelines are meaningless. Stronger measures must be implemented to ensure the public’s health and safety as well as compliance with the CDC mandates. Kudos to Michigan—New York’s legislature should do the same. Perhaps the possibility of a loss of freedom and money will finally put an end to these unsafe practices.

  4. Pedro February 4, 2013 at 8:49 am

    Any medical care provider should be well aware of the health risks associated with the reuse of syringes and insulin pens in the treatment of their patients. It is frightening that some providers have an obvious disregard for a patient’s safety and well being. I can only hope that our legislators, and the city and state agencies responsible for licensing and monitoring all medical providers are investigating these events. I certainly would support legislature that would help strengthen and enforce these guidelines to help prevent these events from occurring in the future.

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