More than 1,800 patients at Broward General Medical Center were put at risk of being infected with HIV, hepatitis and other deadly diseases after bad practices involving IVs.
Broward health officials have confirmed that a veteran nurse may have used IV bags contaminated with other patients' fluids while administering saline solution to patients who came to the hospital for cardiac chemical stress tests.
The news comes on the heels of the VA hospital in Miami using unsanitary equipment that may have infected some patients with HIV, hepatitis and other diseases transmitted through the swap of bodily fluids.
According to officials, nurse Qui Lan used the same IV bag on different patients on multiple occasions when proper protocol at the hospital is to switch out the IV bags for new ones on each new patient. Lan, a seven-year veteran, had handled IVs during the stress tests since 2004.
As many as 1,850 patients may have been impacted, but hospital officials said they don't know for sure. Lan was suspended and then later resigned. She has since left the country.
Hospital officials are concerned that fluids from one patient may have seeped back into the bag and then transferred to another patient that used the same bag. They call the chances of blood backflow into the bag "low."
Broward General sent letters to thousands of patients over the weekend to notify them of the problem. Some patients should receive the letters in the mail today.
The letter asks for patients to immediately contact a physician and set up a screening for Hepatits B and C and HIV/AIDS.
Lan switched out the IV needle and a portion of the plastic tubing that connects the needle to the solution bag. But in some cases, the nurse would not change the bag containing the saline solution.
In March, the VA sent letters to more than 3,000 veterans who had colonoscopies at the Miami VA hospital informing them that improperly cleaned equipment might have exposed them to hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV. Similar problems arose at VA hospitals in Tennessee and Georgia with more than 11,000 veterans potentially exposed to the unsanitary equipment.
Records show that among the patients at the three hospitals who have heeded VA warnings to get follow-up blood checks, eight have tested positive for HIV. Twelve former patients have tested positive for hepatitis B and 37 have tested positive for hepatitis C.
A Miami man was the first to file a lawsuit against the hospital.