Hundreds of hospital patients line up for tests after possible infection

October 8, 2009 By Diane Lade

Some of the 1,851 patients who had tests administered by a Broward General Medical Center nurse alleged to have knowingly violated infection control protocols will know within two weeks if they have contracted hepatitis or HIV, officials said Wednesday.

But others will have to wait six months, not knowing if they have a blood-borne infectious disease they could pass to others.

The additional time is required for those who had the cardiac chemical stress test from March 1 through Sept. 8, in order to allow for an . The incidents involving the potentially contaminated single-use tubing and saline bags, which officials said registered nurse Qui Lan admitted to using for multiple patients, stretch back to 2004.

The hospital has notified all affected patients and is paying for the blood tests, as well as for the six-month follow-up test.

More than 94 people have come into a counseling center set up in the Fort Lauderdale hospital since Monday, and another 1,400 have called the information hotline.

Many health experts are asking: How did Lan's behavior, which spanned five years until the hospital received an anonymous report and later suspended her, escape detection?

Broward General quality teams routinely check if nurses are properly following infection-control measures such as safely administering injections or frequently washing their hands, said hospital COO Alice Taylor. But installing a sterile IV line is so basic that most supervisors would never think a registered nurse couldn't do it properly, she added.

"We don't watch nurses change the sheets on the beds," Taylor said.

The hospital will consider if any changes need to be made as it continues to investigate the incident, Taylor said.

Joseph F. Perz, a health-care epidemiologist with the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said sometimes hospitals "assume know better" when it comes to basic infection control practices. "But I think we would like to see more attention paid to reviewing the basics when it comes to delivering IV medications or injections," he said.

Fort Lauderdale Police continue to investigate Lan's actions after hospital officials filed a complaint with them Monday, a month after Lan resigned. No charges have been filed against the nurse.

Police said they believe Lan is out of the country. The Sun Sentinel reached Jack Braunstein, listed in Broward County records as her domestic partner, by telephone Wednesday. Braunstein referred all questions to attorney Allison Gilman. Gilman did not return the Sun Sentinel's calls to her office Wednesday.

Michael Flynn, a law professor at Nova Southeastern University in Davie, Fla., said investigators will likely focus on whether Lan deliberately reused medical supplies over a long period of time knowing it constituted a health risk.

"If it's true she admitted she knew what she was doing was wrong, that is an intentional act. And that has potential criminal implications," said Flynn.

(c) 2009, Sun Sentinel.
Visit the Sun-Sentinel on the World Wide Web at
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

Explore further: Prostate patients warned of possible virus

Related Stories

Patients notified of HIV, hepatitis risk

November 14, 2007

Officials have notified about 630 patients of a New York area physician who reused needles and syringes that they are at risk for HIV and hepatitis B and C.

Colo. scrub tech hears charges in hepatitis C case

July 7, 2009

(AP) -- A Denver hospital said Monday it has asked every patient who had surgery there over a six-month period to come in for a blood test amid allegations that a former technician exposed up to 6,000 people to hepatitis ...

NY hospital warns of possible hepatitis exposures

July 16, 2009

(AP) -- A hospital in New York state is notifying about 2,800 patients of possible exposure to hepatitis C after learning that a former employee is suspected of exposing nearly 6,000 patients in Colorado to the disease.

3 states investigating hep C-infected scrub tech

July 17, 2009

(AP) -- Hundreds more patients have been advised to get tested for hepatitis C as health officials in two more states launched investigations into an infected Colorado surgery tech who allegedly swapped clean needles for ...

Recommended for you

How the finch changes its tune

August 3, 2015

Like top musicians, songbirds train from a young age to weed out errors and trim variability from their songs, ultimately becoming consistent and reliable performers. But as with human musicians, even the best are not machines. ...

Machine Translates Thoughts into Speech in Real Time

December 21, 2009

( -- By implanting an electrode into the brain of a person with locked-in syndrome, scientists have demonstrated how to wirelessly transmit neural signals to a speech synthesizer. The "thought-to-speech" process ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.