Nurse Caught Reusing Syringe After Giving Flu Shots To More Than 60 Patients

A New Jersey nurse has come under fire for reusing syringes while administering flu shots. According to NBC Philadelphia, the nurse’s failure to follow proper procedure was cited when she was contracted by healthcare provider TotalWellness to give shots to more than 60 Otsuka Pharmaceutical employees. Now, the incident is being reported by news outlets around the country.

According to a report released by the New Jersey Department of Health, the nurse administered the flu vaccinations to a total of 67 employees at the Otsuka Pharmaceutical offices in West Windsor, New Jersey, on Sept. 30. Although the nurse did replace the needle after each shot, she reportedly failed to change the syringe each time she administered a shot. Now, the nurse is being cited for failure “to follow proper medical procedures and safeguards.”

An official with the New Jersey Department of Health wrote a letter to Otsuka Pharmaceutical to address the incident and how the nurse’s actions could be detrimental to the employees that were injected.

“Syringe reuse may have exposed you to infected blood,” the letter stated. “At this time NJDOH is not aware of any disease transmission, but you may be at risk for developing an infection as a result of this improper practice.”

“The needles were changed between each patient, but the syringe was reused multiple times,” the official wrote. “Syringe reuse may have exposed you to infected blood. At this time, NJDOH is not aware of any disease transmission, but you may be at risk for developing an infection as a result of this improper practice.”

However, that’s not all. In addition to using only one syringe, the nurse also gave lower dosages of the flu vaccination than recommended. Although lower dosages aren’t harmful, they aren’t exactly helpful either as the vaccination may not be as effective as it normally would, according to the Daily Mail. The letter also offered a number of suggestions for the Otsuka Pharmaceutical employees to avoid any potential problems that could occur as a result of the botched vaccinations.

Although the risk of infection is reportedly low, the health department is still urging flu vaccination recipients to undergo testing for hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and HIV. The Health Department, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and TotalWellness offered free testing at the West Windsor Township Senior Center on Oct. 5 and 6 for employees who were exposed to the syringe used.

“Receiving less than the recommended amount is not harmful, but you might not be fully protected against the flu,” the officials wrote. “We are recommending that you get another flu shot this season to ensure that you are completely protected. There will be flu shots available to you at the testing and vaccination clinic in West Windsor, should you decide to get revaccinated.”

TotalWellness president and founder, Alan Kohll, has also released a statement of apology for the nurse’s actions. “We take full responsibility for this incident and are working diligently with the New Jersey Department of Health to resolve this matter as swiftly as possible,” Kohll said in a statement. “Our sincerest apologies go out to all those affected by this terrible event.”

At this point, it is unclear whether the nurse has been reprimanded or terminated for the vaccines. However, the New York Post reports that the Board of Nursing is currently gathering information about the incident for evaluation purposes.

[Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images]