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Dirty Needles Sicken Thousands Of Americans Every Year

The medical profession started using disposable syringes several decades ago, recognizing that the risks of contamination with reusable syringes are easy to avoid. However, according to a new investigative report, contaminated syringes still affect many people in Ohio and around the nation.

Statistics from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control show that at least 150,000 patients reported receiving an injection from an improperly reused syringe. Some of these patients also contracted dangerous blood-born diseases like hepatitis C, HIV, and the antibiotic-resistant bacterial infection known as MSRA. These cases probably amount to serious examples of medical malpractice.

In one particularly disturbing example, an oral surgeon infected six patients with HIV and hepatitis. State authorities had to warn 8,000 patients about the risk of exposure. Another group of clinics exposed as many as 63,000 patients to diseases and transmitted hepatitis C to as many as 115 of them.

What explains how these disease outbreaks occurred despite the broad awareness of the risks of reusing syringes? Like other medical malpractice cases, these doctors were probably cutting corners, costs or both. One official attributed the rates

One big problem in this area is that it is difficult for health officials and doctors to connect the dots between an infectious disease like hepatitis and the source. Many instances of contaminated syringes go unreported - the victims might just assume that they contracted the condition elsewhere. An experienced medical malpractice lawyer can help victims determine what went wrong.

Source: USA Today, "Dirty medical needles put tens of thousands at risk in USA," Peter Eisler, Dec. 28, 2012

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