How an insulin pen works, the dangers of misuse

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — The Connecticut Department of Public Health has launched an investigation into the possible misuse of insulin pens at Griffin Hospital in Derby.

A spokesman says the cartridge must never be used for more than one person, even when the needle is changed.

Compared to using a syringe, an insulin pen is a more convenient way for patients to manage their diabetes. It also offers a more accurate delivery.

Griffin Hospital says at this time there is no evidence that there has been any disease transmissions and that needles were not used on more than one patient.

Still, they’re saying it is a serious safety health issue and are asking patients to be tested as a precaution for Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C and HIV — the virus that causes AIDS.

“It would be unlikely to happen but you are hooking up a needle to a reservoir of medication and you’re putting it into the bloodstream,” said Dr. Frank Mongillo, an internal medicine specialist. “So, conceivably blood could flow back into that cartridge, however unlikely.”

Griffin said some 3,150 patients may have been affected. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call the hospital at 203-732-1411 or 203-732-1340. There will be no charge for screening, testing or counseling.

The two largest health care systems in the state — Hartford Hospital and Yale-New Haven — say they do not use insulin pens at any of their associated hospitals.

Jocelyn Maminta reporting

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