A mistake Sunday by a nurse at an Arizona state prison may have resulted in 24 prisoners being exposed to the blood-borne pathogens hepatitis A and C, the Arizona Republic reported
A nurse who worked for Corizon Inc., the nation’s largest provider of prison health care services, followed an improper procedure when injecting the patients at State Prison Complex-Lewis, Clarisse Tsang, the Arizona Department of Health Services hepatitis-prevention coordinator, told the Republic.
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Tsang said the incident involved “improper use of an insulin injection from a vial,” the Republic said. The company issued a news release on Wednesday but would only say the problem was an improper procedure and concerned blood-borne pathogens.
The Republic said this was the second instance that inmates were put at risk by a contracted health care provider. In August 2012, a nurse for a different company, Wexford Health Services, exposed inmates to hepatitis with a contaminated insulin supply. Ten of the same inmates exposed in the first incident were exposed again Sunday, the Republic said.
Corizon got the state prison health care contract, a three-year $372 million deal, last year, the Republic said.
Some people are concerned that Corizon didn’t notify the public right away about the exposure and offered no details in a statement made three days after the occurrence.
The Corrections Department referred questions to the health care company, putting the responsibility for making a public announcement on Corizon, the Republic said.
A Department of Health Services spokesperson said they are concerned that the same problem occurred to some of the same inmates and would be investigating the situation.
Hepatitis can make patients very ill and be deadly in some cases.
Arizona’s inmate health care has come under increasing fire in the last few years, the Republic reported in November 2013
The American Friends Service Committee-Arizona, a Quaker group, pushed the state to look at claims that medical care is inadequate and even denied to prisoners, the Republic said, citing 50 prison deaths in the first eight months of 2013. The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a class-action lawsuit over the issue.
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