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Silver Golub & Teitell LLP Attains Class Certification in Lawsuit Against Griffin Hospital & Griffin Health Services Corporation for Alleged Misuse of Insulin Pens
January 6, 2021
WATERBURY, CT (January 6, 2021) – A Waterbury Superior Court judge has certified a class action alleging claims of professional negligence against Griffin Hospital and Griffin Health Services Corporation regarding its administration of insulin to hospitalized patients through multi-dose insulin pens.
The lawsuit – thought to be the largest of its kind – was brought against the defendants by Anthony Diaz, Bruce Sypniewski and Daisy Gmitter on their own behalves and on behalf of all other similarly situated persons. The plaintiffs are represented by Partners Ernie Teitell and Marco A. Allocca of the law firm of Silver Golub & Teitell LLP in Stamford, CT. The case caption is Anthony Diaz, et al. v. Griffin Health Services Corp., et al., Docket Number (X10) UWY-CV15-6029965-S, currently pending on the Complex Litigation Docket at the Waterbury Superior Court.
According to the lawsuit, nurses at Griffin Hospital improperly administered insulin to patients through the use of multi-dose insulin pens, potentially exposing thousands of patients to blood-borne pathogens, such as the hepatitis B virus (“HBV”), hepatitis C virus (“HCV”) and the human immunodeficiency virus (“HIV”).
The lawsuit alleges that Griffin Hospital in Derby, CT, began using multi-dose insulin pens in approximately September 2008 and continued their use through approximately May 7, 2014. A multi-dose insulin pen is an injector device that contains a multi-dose vial, or cartridge, of insulin designed to allow for the delivery of multiple does of insulin to a single patient. Multi-dose insulin pens are intended for single patient use only and are not intended to be used on multiple patients. Although multi-dose insulin pens utilize single use needles, the cartridge of insulin itself can be contaminated through the backflow of blood or skin cells from a patient, and thus could potentially transmit an infection if used on another patient.
Griffin prescribed and administered insulin through the use of multi-dose insulin pens to thousands of patients between 2008 and 2014. The plaintiffs allege that during that time, the hospital improperly used the multi-dose insulin pens in several ways, including:
• by using a single multi-dose insulin pen on multiple patients;
• by using multi-dose insulin pens prescribed for a specific patient on patients for which that insulin pen was not prescribed;
• by improperly drawing insulin from a multi-dose insulin pen prescribed for a specific patient into a separate insulin syringe and then administering that insulin to another patient;
• by improperly removing patient identification labels affixed to a multi-dose insulin pen prescribed for a specific patient and then administering insulin from that same multi-dose insulin pen to other patients.
The Plaintiffs further claim that the misuse of multi-dose insulin pens was caused by several institutional failures by the defendants, including the defendants’ failure to:
• put in place appropriate policies, procedures, rules and/or guidelines regarding the use of multi-dose insulin pens;
• properly train, educate, supervise and monitor staff regarding the use of multi-dose insulin pens;
• warn or notify staff of the risks of using a single pen on multiple patients;
• ensure that the system for distribution of pertinent information, including alerts, was effective;
• advise, distribute, educate and train staff of FDA and CMS S&C alerts and warnings.
On or about May 16, 2014, Griffin Hospital issued a press release and sent a notification letter to affected patients of Griffin Hospital notifying them about the misuse of multi-dose insulin pens and strongly encouraging affected patients to be tested within 30 days for HBV, HCV and HIV. The letter advised patients of potential exposure to certain blood-borne pathogens and also offered free testing at Griffin Hospital.
Class Potentially Has Thousands of Members
The court has defined the class as all patients of Griffin Hospital for whom a multi-dose insulin pen was prescribed during their hospitalization between September 1, 2008 and May 7, 2014 and to whom insulin was administered from a multi-dose pen, who received a notification letter from Griffin Hospital dated May 16, 2014 and who subsequently underwent testing for HBV, HCV and HIV. Testing could have been done at Griffin Hospital or at an outside facility.
Connecticut Supreme Court Denied Immediate Appeal
Shortly after the Superior Court’s certification of the class, the defendants sought an immediate appeal directly to the Connecticut Supreme Court pursuant to General Statutes § 52-265a. Attorneys Teitell and Allocca successfully opposed the defendants’ attempt and the Chief Justice denied the defendants’ application for immediate appeal pursuant to General Statutes § 52-265a. The case now proceeds in the Superior Court as a class action. It is anticipated that notice to potential class members will occur sometime in the Spring or Summer of 2021, following the Superior Court’s orders regarding notice.
About Silver Golub & Teitell LLP
Celebrating its fourth decade as Connecticut’s trial law firm, Silver Golub & Teitell LLP is one of the leading medical malpractice, serious personal injury and complex civil litigation law firms in Connecticut. The firm’s philosophy is simple: To provide its clients with the best legal representation possible, regardless of the effort and expense required. The Connecticut Law Tribune noted that the firm “… has earned some of the largest verdicts and settlements in state history.” At the same time, these cases have had a significant impact on diverse areas of both state and national law. The firm has offices in Stamford, Hartford, Danbury and Waterbury, CT. www.sgtlaw.com
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