Hundreds of hospital patients line up for tests after possible infection

October 8, 2009 By Diane Lade

Some of the 1,851 patients who had tests administered by a Broward General Medical Center nurse alleged to have knowingly violated infection control protocols will know within two weeks if they have contracted hepatitis or HIV, officials said Wednesday.

But others will have to wait six months, not knowing if they have a blood-borne infectious disease they could pass to others.

The additional time is required for those who had the cardiac chemical stress test from March 1 through Sept. 8, in order to allow for an . The incidents involving the potentially contaminated single-use tubing and saline bags, which officials said registered nurse Qui Lan admitted to using for multiple patients, stretch back to 2004.

The hospital has notified all affected patients and is paying for the blood tests, as well as for the six-month follow-up test.

More than 94 people have come into a counseling center set up in the Fort Lauderdale hospital since Monday, and another 1,400 have called the information hotline.

Many health experts are asking: How did Lan's behavior, which spanned five years until the hospital received an anonymous report and later suspended her, escape detection?

Broward General quality teams routinely check if nurses are properly following infection-control measures such as safely administering injections or frequently washing their hands, said hospital COO Alice Taylor. But installing a sterile IV line is so basic that most supervisors would never think a registered nurse couldn't do it properly, she added.

"We don't watch nurses change the sheets on the beds," Taylor said.

The hospital will consider if any changes need to be made as it continues to investigate the incident, Taylor said.

Joseph F. Perz, a health-care epidemiologist with the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said sometimes hospitals "assume know better" when it comes to basic infection control practices. "But I think we would like to see more attention paid to reviewing the basics when it comes to delivering IV medications or injections," he said.

Fort Lauderdale Police continue to investigate Lan's actions after hospital officials filed a complaint with them Monday, a month after Lan resigned. No charges have been filed against the nurse.

Police said they believe Lan is out of the country. The Sun Sentinel reached Jack Braunstein, listed in Broward County records as her domestic partner, by telephone Wednesday. Braunstein referred all questions to attorney Allison Gilman. Gilman did not return the Sun Sentinel's calls to her office Wednesday.

Michael Flynn, a law professor at Nova Southeastern University in Davie, Fla., said investigators will likely focus on whether Lan deliberately reused medical supplies over a long period of time knowing it constituted a health risk.

"If it's true she admitted she knew what she was doing was wrong, that is an intentional act. And that has potential criminal implications," said Flynn.

(c) 2009, Sun Sentinel.
Visit the Sun-Sentinel on the World Wide Web at
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Study finds being in a good mood for your flu jab boosts its effectiveness

September 25, 2017
New research by a team of health experts at the University of Nottingham has found evidence that being in a positive mood on the day of your flu jab can increase its protective effect.

New tool demonstrates high cost of lack of sleep in the workplace

September 25, 2017
Sleep disorders and sleep deficiency are hidden costs that affect employers across America. Seventy percent of Americans admit that they routinely get insufficient sleep, and 30 percent of U.S. workers and 44 percent of night ...

Maternal diet could affect kids' brain reward circuitry

September 25, 2017
Researchers in France found that rats who ate a junk food diet during pregnancy had heavier pups that strongly preferred the taste of fat straight after weaning. While a balanced diet in childhood seemed to reduce the pups' ...

Exercise can make cells healthier, promoting longer life, study finds

September 22, 2017
Whether it's running, walking, cycling, swimming or rowing, it's been well-known since ancient times that doing some form of aerobic exercise is essential to good health and well-being. You can lose weight, sleep better, ...

Breathing dirty air may harm kidneys, study finds

September 21, 2017
Outdoor air pollution has long been linked to major health conditions such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. A new study now adds kidney disease to the list, according to ...

Excess dietary manganese promotes staph heart infection

September 21, 2017
Too much dietary manganese—an essential trace mineral found in leafy green vegetables, fruits and nuts—promotes infection of the heart by the bacterium Staphylococcus aureus ("staph").


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.