January 25, 2013
On January 23, Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), expressed his latest concerns regarding problems at the Buffalo Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center in a letter to Brian Stiller, medical director at VA Western New York Healthcare System. The problems occurred because of faulty labeling practices at the hospital in which insulin delivery devices possibly may have been used on more than one patient during the time period of October 19, 2010, to November 1, 2012. As many as 716 veterans could have been exposed to HIV, hepatitis B, or hepatitis C. In the letter, Schumer emphasized that the Buffalo VA Medical Center should not only provide health testing to possibly exposed veterans but also extend testing to their family members and caregivers. Schumer based his request upon information from relatives of the diabetic patients who were treated at the hospital.
Schumer states, "The VA must waste no time in testing the family members and caregivers of the 716 patients in Buffalo who were victims of the negligent and improper use of insulin pens. These veterans and their family members who may have been exposed to life-threatening illnesses need testing performed immediately, and every day that goes by is another day the families' legitimate concerns go unanswered." Schumer explained that family members continued to provide care to the veterans and were unaware of their own possible exposure. He requested that they be provided the same follow-up services as any potentially exposed veteran.
Buffalo VA Hospital spokesperson Evangeline Conley said that the hospital is reviewing this matter and investigating all options. According to Conley, currently the VA will provide free testing, care, and counseling to any veteran who tests positive for any blood-borne disease resulting from this incident.