Nebraska-based company TotalWellness hired a contractor nurse to administer flu vaccines to employees of Otsuka Pharmaceutical in West Windsor, New Jersey. Later, they discovered that the nurse failed to change the syringes after every shot.
Sixty-seven employees at Otsuka Pharmaceuticals are facing possible health risks due to the malpractice. The flu vaccines were administered last Sept. 30, 2015.
The nurse in question reused the syringes, not the needles. While the risk of infection is low, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention along with local and state health officials highly recommend that the employees in question be tested for hepatitis B and C and HIV. These three conditions can quickly spread through the blood. Apart from the improper usage of syringes, the investigation found the nurse failed to give the recommended dosage of flu vaccine.
The question remains whether the nurse use the same syringe in all 67 employees or several syringes were reused. TotalWellness said in a statement that it takes full responsibility on both the incident and its potential health risks.
"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," said Alan Kohll, founder and president of TotalWellness. Kohll added his sincerest apologies to the affected employees.
A spokesperson from TotalWellness assured that the company is dedicated in providing the necessary screenings, counseling and care to resolve the problem at hand.
The New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH) recapped the dangers of reusing syringes. It may have exposed employees to infected blood. The improper practice puts the Otsuka Pharmaceuticals employees at risk of developing an infection. Since the nurse gave a lower dosage than the recommended one, the employees were also urged to get another flu shot to ensure that they are completely covered.
The tests were provided freely by TotalWellness, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and NJDOH. The employees will again be tested after four to six months.
The nurse in question remains unidentified but is believed to be licensed by the State Board of Nurses. Investigation is under way and no account of disciplinary action has been reported.
Photo: Jochen Pippir