On September 1, somebody called Broward General Medical Center in Fort Lauderdale to say that one of their nurses had been re-using tubing and saline bags that were supposed to be thrown out after one use.
The nurse in question is one Qui Lan aged 59. The hospital immediately launched an internal investigation and found that the caller was correct.
Lan had been caring for patients who came to the hospital for cardiac stress tests. Instead of running on a treadmill, the patients had been given a medication to increase their heart rate and blood flow. The medication would have been placed in a saline bag and administered via the tubing directly into each patient’s bloodstream. Lan worked with two other nurses in this area but the other two were apparently maintaining sterile technique.
Police were called in to investigate, as there were 1,851 patients who had this stress testing from Qui Lan between January, 2004 and this past September. They may all have been exposed to unknown numbers of diseases including HIV.
Hospital Hot Line Getting Many Calls
At this point there are no known cases of infection or disease as a result of Lan’s failure to protect her patients. Police are looking at a possible charge of criminal neglect but without any victims, there can be no legal claim. On October 3, the hospital sent certified letters to all the 1,851 potential victims. They set up a hot line and have received about 1,500 calls on it so far, according to Alice Taylor, the hospital’s COO.
According to Lan’s attorney, Lan had been a nurse for 37 years and had never had any disciplinary actions taken against her. The attorney has refused to comment on the allegations and has stated: “Right now, we don’t feel like she did anything wrong.”
Sterile Technique a Basic Medical Requirement
Nobody who completes any medical training and gets hired can possibly not know about potential infection from re-used equipment. All equipment related to a patient’s blood is either disposable after one use or autoclaved for renewed sterility if it is to be re-used. Lan worked at the Broward General Medical Center for nearly six years according to current news reports, which means that somebody — at least the nurses working with her — must have noticed if she was re-using disposable equipment.
Lan was suspended from work on September 8 and resigned on September 9, giving no reason. The hospital is asking the 1,851 exposed patients to go for HIV testing and has offered to pay the cost. The infectious diseases medical director has stated that chances of any infection are low but cannot be ruled out.
Hospitals are notorious for transmitting infection to patients — it is called nosocomial infection. A hospital floor is said to be the dirtiest place in the world. But responsible medical professionals are well-aware of the danger and take all the necessary precautions to protect both their patients and themselves. Failure to do that constitutes medical malpractice.
If you or a loved one has contracted a disease or infection during a hospital stay or visit, please contact our Mobile, Alabama attorneys for a free case review.