In this post, Evelyn shares her experience with stigma.
Its time to eliminate the stigma attached to Hepatitis C
“We’re not going to tell anyone about this,” I whispered to my husband as my doctor exited the exam room after sharing very sobering news. For a year we kept quiet.
When I was diagnosed with Hepatitis C, I allowed stigma into my life. When a nurse at our oncologist’s office reused syringes during chemotherapy, I was one of 99 Nebraskans who were infected with hepatitis C. This diagnosis brought about intense feelings of shame, even though I had done nothing wrong. For a year, I was stunned, immobile. read more »
Joseph Perz, DrPH, MA
Quality Standards and Safety Team Leader
for the Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion,
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
I have held a special place in my heart for Dr. Joe Perz of the CDC for the last 5 years. Even though we have not met in person, we were introduced in a very peculiar way. You see, Joe was one of the first on the scene to investigate a potential outbreak in Colorado in the spring of 2009. The CDC was called in when it was determined there were two reported cases of hepatitis C from individuals who had surgeries at the same hospital just a day or two apart.
I was one of those two patients. I am eternally grateful to Joe and his colleagues for not only getting to the heart of the outbreak and allowing a broken system to be mended but for offering me a sense of understanding about how I had gotten infected. Along the way, several other healthcare professionals with whom I was in contact scoffed at my insistence that I had been infected during my healthcare procedure—and that many other patients had, too. Ever since this first unusual “meeting,” I have followed the tremendous work of Joe Perz and the CDC’s extraordinary Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion (DHQP). I’m a fan! Continue reading →
The letter that Evelyn received informing her that she was exposed to Hepatitis C
Three more patient notifications have been announced this week, for a total of five this year. During a patient notification campaign a health facility (the state health department or healthcare provider) sends a letter to patients who were potentially exposed to disease through unsafe practice while receiving healthcare. Since HONOReform started in 2007, there have been countless patient notification events, all prompted by evidence of unsafe injection practices. Nearly 200,000 Americans in the past thwelve years have been told they may have been placed in harm’s way because one healthcare worker (or more) wasn’t doing injections the right way.
After a thorough investigation by health officials, 50 of these patient notifications have become confirmed outbreaks of bloodborne pathogens, usually hepatitis C. read more »
Sharon Bradley, RN CIC, of the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority.
We are just two of many citizens and patient advocates who remain concerned about the safety of our nation’s many outpatient clinics—and ambulatory surgery facilities, in particular. Perhaps, it is because trips to these type of healthcare settings resulted in the Hepatitis C virus for both of us.
Since the founding of HONOReform in 2007, there has been a migration of care from the hospital to the outpatient setting. Very few of us do not know someone who described their surgery or procedure, which appeared quite complicated, yet they were released the same day. read more »
Melisa French is a survivor of the Florida outbreak of 2010
Melisa French has conquered many challenges in her very full life. As a certified cave diver, she often dives in wells hundreds of feet below the surface in search of Mayan skulls and artifacts. But the biggest challenge of her life came when she found out she had contracted Hepatitis C.
Melisa was vibrantly healthy when she sought a second opinion on hormone replacement therapy from a holistic and alternative health clinic in Florida in 2009. During the single IV vitamin infusion she had there she grew concerned when the nurse did not wipe the tops of the many vials of injectables with alcohol and accessed each with the same needle and syringe before she capped it and put it in her pocket. When the nurse removed the IV tubing from Melisa’s arm, she let the bloody tubing dangle from the IV pole instead of disposing it in a hazardous waste receptacle. There was no hazardous waste container in the room, hand washing sink, or alcohol hand hygiene products. Melisa left the clinic vowing never to go back. read more »
Over the past two and half weeks, the New Hampshire legislature has passed two new bills to address drug diversion.
The history of these bills began in the spring of 2012 when my partner and I noted that we had two patients with acute hepatitis C under our care. Neither of us had seen acute hepatitis C in our practices since it usually presents as a chronic disease. The common thread was our cardiac catheterization lab. We reported these immediately which began the cascade of events eventually resulting in identification of 10,000 patients at risk nationwide from 17 hospitals. At our hospital, there were 32 cases that resulted from drug diversion by a medical technician named David Kwiatkowski.
I have had the dual advantage of being a member of the state wide Drug Diversion Task Force, a working group that arose following this episode, as well as being elected to the New Hampshire State Legislature House of Representatives in the same year. Two pieces of legislation had been introduced to address the problem of drug diversion as a response to this incident. I took these pieces of legislation, with full support from their sponsor, to the Task Force. With all of the major stakeholders participating and with the hard work of legislative subcommittees, we were able to revise these two pieces of legislation to address the problems identified by our Department of Health and Human Services as a result of its investigation of the outbreak. read more »
It has been almost five years since many of my fellow Coloradoans and I were wondering if we would be okay, if we would live. I had learned of my hepatitis C diagnosis months earlier than the others, as I was symptomatic, most of the victims were not. I kept asking how this could happen to me, all the while fearing that it wasn’t just me suffering. I feared for my future. I feared for the future of my daughter, Lucy, who was just one year old. A few months later, in July 2009, we learned that Kristen Parker, one of three known drug diverters in recent years to infect patients, had been the source of this deadly disease. Thousands of letters went out to patients who may have come into contact with Kristen and therefore put into harms way.
Unbeknownst to me at the time, I was following in the very brave footsteps of Evelyn McKnight and HONOReform. So with the support of some vital people, I tried to make a difference. I could not stay silent. I spoke to media and told my story and the story of the outbreak. I tried to put a name and a face to this tragedy, as some of the victims were too ill to speak out for themselves. Soon some Colorado lawmakers approached me to work with them to help make some real changes. And we did! I am proud of the two bills that were passed in 2010 HB 1414, concerning the reporting Identity in Injectable Drug Diversion (Benefield/Foster) http://tornado.state.co.us/gov_dir/leg_dir/olls/sl2010a/sl_338.htm and
HB 1415, Sunrise Surgical Tech Registration (Gagliardi/Morse) http://tornado.state.co.us/gov_dir/leg_dir/olls/sl2010a/sl_339.htm. read more »
Kim James is an employee health nurse at Brookdale Hospital in Brooklyn and member of the New York One & Only Campaign workgroup. Here she talks about her passion for injection safety.
Hello everyone my name is Kim James and I am a nurse practitioner in charge of occupational health at Brookdale hospital. As a nurse practitioner one of my concerns is injection safety, especially among healthcare workers. In doing research for our Informative Day for workers in injection safety, I ran across the CDC’s One and Only Campaign.
In that Campaign I found out and was horrified by the fact that so many consumers have contracted HIV, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C from healthcare providers. That knowledge so moved me that I have decided to really take action and to do my part to help spread the word and to see if I can in any way contribute to stemming this absolutely unfortunate practice.
I have a saying that I will be “clicking my high heels all over the world” as I try to get this message out.
I like to travel and one of the things I like doing is a little bit of community service when I go to visit. So I plan to share this knowledge every place I go. If anyone will listen to me even for a minute, I‘m going to do the very best I can with my last breath to stem unsafe injection practices that are harming our patients.
Evelyn McKnight is a survivor of the Nebraska outbreak, in which 99 cancer patients contracted Hepatitis C through reuse of an IV bag on multiple patients.
One IV Bag, One IV Tubing, and Only One Time
Recently, I had what started out as a minor health situation. But as time went on, I experienced a cascade of health complications which resulted in a not-so-minor situation. I neared dehydration, and I would need IV fluids if my condition continued to deteriorate. The thought of an IV infusion panicked me, and I asked for 24 hours before we began IV fluids.
As I chugged Gatorade, I tried not to think about the last time I had an IV infusion, which was during chemotherapy in 2000. The nurse reused syringes to access a mutidose saline bag. When a nurse used a syringe on a patient with known Hepatitis C and then reused the same syringe to access the IV bag, the IV bag was contaminated. This happened multiple times during the day; in fact, it was found during an investigation by Nebraska Health and Human Services that after a day’s use, the bag was cloudy, pink, with bits of sediment. In this way, 99 Nebraskans contracted Hepatitis C. read more »