At the Jan. 24, 2013 Legislative session, the Erie County Legislature’s Minority Caucus, led by Minority Leader John Mills and comprised of Legislators Lynne Dixon, Kevin Hardwick, Joseph Lorigo and Edward Rath, co-sponsored a resolution in support of the investigation by Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to determine how it was possible that the same insulin pen was reused on different patients at the VA of Western New York Healthcare System in Buffalo. As a result, hundreds of patients risked being exposed to HIV, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C.
The Minority Caucus was pleased to learn on Jan. 22 that an investigation was underway to determine how the pens were continuously reused for years, despite protocols being in place to prohibit such action. The resolution, which was approved unanimously, was first submitted to the Legislature for review prior to the commencement of the investigation.
“This honorable body was disturbed to learn of such neglect at the VA Hospital and goes on record in support of a full investigation. The practice of reusing insulin pens at the VA Hospital is inconceivable. Many of us in the Legislature know family members, friends or neighbors who have been treated at the VA and were shocked to learn that more than 700 patients were potentially exposed to life-threatening viruses. This is unacceptable and a thorough investigation is necessary to answer the many questions that linger. The investigative report must also include measures for preventing such an enormous error from ever occurring again,” said Minority Leader Mills on behalf of the Caucus.
The resolution was forwarded to Brian Stiller, Medical Center Director of the VA Healthcare System in Buffalo, along with Congressman Chris Collins, Congressman Brian Higgins and Congresswoman Louise Slaughter, as well as U.S. Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, serving as notification that the Legislature is on record in support of this critical investigation. In addition, the Minority Caucus applauds the actions of federal lawmakers who quickly responded to this potential health crisis.