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Nurse's error possibly contaminates 24 Arizona prisoners

Medical treatment under any circumstance requires careful planning, following procedure and attention to detail. Medication injury can occur when medical staff make errors that cause the wrong drug to be administered or contaminates the supply of a drug. The Arizona Board or Nursing was notified, and a nurse was put on suspension following mistakes that may have exposed two dozen Arizona inmates to blood-borne pathogens such as HIV or hepatitis.

According to reports, the incident occurred on Jan. 5, as the nurse treated inmates in the Arizona State Prison located in Buckeye. The nurse first used the same needle to test blood sugar levels for five patients. She cleaned the needle with alcohol between tests, but that action is still likely against procedure.

The nurse then used the same needle to draw insulin from vials. As the needles had been previously used, it's possible the vials of insulin were contaminated at that time. The nurse used those vials and clean needles to administer insulin injections on Jan. 5. On Jan. 6, nursing staff at the prison used the possibly contaminated vials to administer additional insulin injections.

According to the company that manages health care at the prison, there isn't any evidence of infection at this time. The nurse has been suspended pending an investigation.

This is not the first such incident at the prison. In fact, ten of the inmates affected by this error were involved in a similar error in 2012. According to the medical company, new protocols will be put in place to avoid these issues in the future. Should any inmate be infected with disease due to the error, they may have a claim for compensation due to the nurse's negligence.

Source: Kansas City Business, "More detail given on medical breach at prison" Jacques Billeaud, Jan. 09, 2014

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