By Daniel Tepfer, Stamford Advocate. WATERBURY — A judge has refused to throw out a class action lawsuit against Griffin Hospital on behalf of more than 3,100 former patients who may face HIV or other blood-borne diseases as a result of hospital employees using the same insulin injection pens on patient after patient.
In an 18-page decision, Superior Court Judge Linda Lager ruled that it will be up to a jury to decide whether the Derby hospital is liable for the alleged negligent actions of its staff in the case.
“(The complaint) alleges that over a lengthy period of time Griffin improperly administered insulin to its insulin dependent diabetic patients by using single patient multi-dose insulin pens in a manner that violated the standard of care,” the judge wrote. “A central question to all the putative claims is the applicable standard of care.”
Stamford lawyer Ernest Teitell, who filed the lawsuit, declined comment on the judge’s decision. Hospital officials did not immediate return calls for comment.
No trial has yet been set in the case.
On May 16, 2014, Griffin Hospital CEO Patrick Charmel sent a letter to 3,149 former patients stating: “It has identified the possibility that insulin pens ordered for patients hospitalized between Sept. 1, 2008 and May 7, 2014, may have been misused.”
Insulin pens are injector devices that contain a multi-dose vial of insulin. The pens are intended for single person use only and are designed to allow for the delivery of multiple doses. The hospital offered free testing encouraging former patients to come in within the next 30 days.
Hospital officials later said five nurses had been linked to the misuse of the pens and would be “re-educated.”
But the lawsuit claims that as many as 11 hospital employees were involved in using the same insulin pens on patients. It states that in some cases employees improperly removed the patient identification labels affixed to the pens and then administered the same pen to other patients.