Let’s Talk, Lives Depend on You. A Message from HONOReform

March 24, 2014

Evelyn McKnight HONOReformThe following is a guest post by Dr. Evelyn McKnight, cialis founder and president of HONOReform (Hepatitis Outbreaks’ National Organization for Reform).

I remain troubled by the news that 4,277 patients on Long Island, because of improper use of an insulin pen, have been placed in harm’s way (“Nassau hospital’s call to test injected patients seen as opportunity,” March 15, Newsday). These men and women are in my thoughts and prayers.

I joined the CDC and its partners in 2008 to launch the One and Only Campaign. Because of troubling patient notifications and devastating outbreaks that have occurred in the last six years, our work on the campaign has expanded. We developed extraordinary resources on proper use of the insulin pen, for instance. I encourage healthcare workers throughout New York and the area—and throughout the country—to please take time to reeducate themselves on all injection safety fundamentals.

In addition to my encouragement to healthcare workers to always give a safe injection, I encourage them to be unafraid in addressing each other directly, anytime injection safety standards are violated—or seem to be.

I was one of 99 people in Fremont, Nebraska, who was infected with hepatitis C while receiving treatment for cancer at an outpatient clinic in 2002. Syringes were reused, and the saline flush was used improperly. Not only does an outbreak of hepatitis C affect patients, it affects an entire community. Notifications like the current one on Long Island chip away at a community’s confidence in its medical care.

Did anyone speak up, when my fellow patients and I, people who were fighting one fatal disease only to have to take on another, were being violated through unsafe injection practices? Sadly, the answer is no.

In the recent reports, it appears an unnamed healthcare worker did make a stand. According to recent reports, he or she heard a colleague say it’s okay to reuse an insulin pen on more than one patient. As we know, blood can become trapped in the reservoir and, if the device is reused, cause an infection. As it states in the One and Only Campaign materials, “Insulin pens that contain more than one dose of insulin are only meant for one person. “

To the healthcare worker who said to his or her colleague, “No, that is not how it is done,” we issue our thanks. I expect this person will not perceive himself or herself as strong or brave or innovative. I expect he or she would say, if I had a chance to provide a commendation, “I was just doing my job.”

However, speaking up to a coworker or colleague, and especially to a person of higher rank, clearly does not occur as often as it should in healthcare. I am one of many people throughout the United States who has been deeply affected by ongoing, unchecked unsafe injection practices.

On behalf of my fellow patients, and with the patients from Long Island in our minds and hearts, I urge healthcare workers to be unafraid to say, “Stop.” To say, “No…Let’s talk.” Lives depend on you.

Evelyn McKnight is the founder and president of HONOReform (Hepatitis Outbreaks’ National Organization for Reform) and the co-author of A Never Event: Exposing the Largest Outbreak of Hepatitis C in American Healthcare History.

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