Schumer calls on VA to investigate exposure to fatal viruses through insulin pens

“The VA’s independent Inspector General must leave no stone unturned in its investigation as to how 716 patients in Buffalo were victims of the negligent and improper use of insulin pens,” Schumer said in a statement Tuesday. “These patients and their families need answers now.”

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Schumer sent a letter to VA Inspector General George Opfer asking him to immediately conduct an investigation after a routine medical examination found a cart of unmarked insulin pens that could have exposed 716 patients to disease.

“As this country continues to strive to provide the best care and quality medical treatments to our veterans and military personnel, we cannot stand by while potentially life threatening incidents occur,” Schumer wrote. “It is also unacceptable that it took the VA over two months to notify the potentially affected patients, the public, and our federal government officials. We are well aware that time is critical in all healthcare situations and the sooner these veterans are tested and treated for any virus or condition they may have the sooner they can be treated and monitored.”

Schumer said that insulin pens intended for individual patient use were found in the inpatient supply drawer of the medication carts without a patient label on them, meaning the insulin pens intended for individual patient use could have been used on more than one patient. Although the needles were replaced before each use, patients could still potentially have been exposed to viruses.