DERBY – A judge has upheld a class action lawsuit against Griffin Hospital, according to a press release posted Wednesday by the law firm representing the plaintiffs.
The lawsuit alleges that Griffin Hospital improperly used multiple-dose insulin delivery pens by using the same devices on multiple patients. The disposable needles in the pens were not reused.
“Multi-dose insulin pens are for single patient use only and should not be used on multiple patients,” said Silver Golub and Teitell LLP. “Although multi-dose insulin pens use disposable needles, the insulin cartridge itself can be contaminated by backflow of blood or skin cells from one patient, potentially transmitting an infection if used on another patient.”
The device was allegedly misused between September 2008 and May 7, 2014.
Certification by a Waterbury Supreme Court judge enables the action to be brought as a class action. The certification took place on November 23rd. Griffin requested permission to appeal immediately to the state Supreme Court, but was denied on December 14.
The Valley Indy reached out to Griffin Hospital for comment on Wednesday afternoon. The organization responded Wednesday night in a prepared statement attributed to Todd J. Liu
Vice President, Responsible Nursing and General Counsel.
Griffin has been open and transparent about the incidents of previous insulin pen use since the hospital volunteered in 2014. Griffin’s first priority was to ensure that potentially exposed people could be notified, safe and tested, which Griffin initiated and did at his expense. Griffin volunteered what happened in his letter to potentially affected people. Aside from the information the hospital publicly released to its patients and the community about these events back in 2014, Griffin respectfully declines to comment on any ongoing litigation and we will continue to vigorously defend our claims. “
In 2014, hospital officials held a press conference and set up a website that stated that around 3,100 patients ordered insulin pens at the hospital between 2008 and 2014.
Hospital officials pointed out that the disposable needles in the pens were not reused, but rather the pens themselves were reused.
Thousands of patients were notified and the hospital offered to test them for hepatitis B virus (HBV), Hepatitis C virus (HCV) and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).
At the time, hospital officials said the “risk of disease transmission is considered extremely low”.
“Currently there is no evidence that a patient at Griffin Hospital has had disease transmission due to improper use of insulin pens, and the hospital has not identified any patients who actually received an insulin injection from an insulin pen that was used at another patient, “the hospital said in a 2014 statement posted on its website.
Hearst CT published an article in 2014 in which an Ansonia man accused the hospital after being diagnosed with hepatitis C, after which the hospital issued a statement.
The first plaintiffs in the civil lawsuit that began in 2016 are Anthony Diaz, Bruce Sypniewski, and Daisy Gmitter, but the lawsuit’s class action lawsuit opens them to at least 3,000 people.
The plaintiff’s law firm press release also alleges that Griffin Hospital staff improperly removed patient identification tags attached to a multi-dose pen prescribed to a patient and then used the device on other patients.
Plaintiffs allege the improper use of the insulin pens was due to “several institutional errors” by the hospital (and Griffin Health), including the lack of guidelines for the use of the devices and the lack of education and training for the staff who operate the Use devices.
The lawsuit is currently pending in the Superior Court in Waterbury.
After the judicial action has been approved as a class action and the “class” itself has been defined, the next step is for the court to determine how the persons in the pool of plaintiffs should be officially notified. According to the press release, this could happen this spring or summer.