Eye Witness News – Infected Needles – Video Transcript
Eye Witness News Video
Below is the transcript of the original YouTube video – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xkjWzLTq9KA
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Personal Injury Lawyer, Richard Alexander, is profiled on Eyewitness News discussing a case of infected needles being used improperly. With fears of wrongful death and medical malpractice, this segment discussed irresponsibility with medical practice.
[Dave McElhatton] You’re watching Dave McElhatton, Dana King and weather everywhere with Brian Sussman – Eyewitness News Is Everywhere! [Roz Plater] I’m Roz Plater live on the Peninsula. In Palo Alto, a woman has filed suit claiming she got hepatitis C after having her blood drawn at this lab. We’ll have the latest details coming up. [Dana King] Our top story right now: the first claim of contamination in the so-called Dirty Needle case. [Dave McElhatton] A South Bay woman has filed a lawsuit saying she was infected with hepatitis C by a lab technician accused of reusing needles to draw blood. Medical expert Roz Plater is live in Palo Alto with the story. [Roz Plater] Well Matt, Palo Alto Police tells Channel 5 that they have confirmed at least one other patient from here has tested positive for hepatitis C and they’re investigating two other claims. Now all this comes in the wake of a flurry of lawsuits. The lawsuit identifies the woman only as Jane Doe number seven six five nine. We are told she is a 39 year old Santa Clara County soccer mom with three children who had previously tested negative for hepatitis C until the fall of 1997. Attorney Richard Alexander who represents the woman says she had her blood drawn three times at the Palo Alto SmithKline Beecham clinic where state investigators say a lab worker has admitted reusing needles. Alexander says until the woman got a letter two weeks ago she was puzzled as to how she might have contracted the virus. [Richard Alexander] She’s been baffled for this nearly two-year period trying to figure out why she should have to suffer this impact? Why should it impact her relationship with her husband? Why she should be afraid to hold him and kiss her children? [Roz Plater] Nearly 4,000 patients now have been advised they need to be tested for HIV and hepatitis. State investigators say that number could grow as they track the clinics where the lab technician worked. SmithKline Beecham did not return our calls today, but experts say proving a hepatitis infection linked to the clinic worker could be difficult. Dr. Joanne Imperial specializes in liver diseases. She says four percent of the population tests positive for hepatitis C and it’s often difficult to know the source. [Joanne Imperial] It’s very difficult to actually point to a source, especially because most of the patients that have been infected were infected decades ago. [Roz Plater] This case has prompted another look at phlebotomist Natalie Melo Roth, who runs a Walnut Creek phlebotomy training program that is helping draft emergency legislation that would set up new state regulations and require certification for the nearly 10,000 phlebotomists in the state of California. Now, San Francisco Assemblywoman Carol Megan will introduce that emergency legislation into the assembly on Tuesday afternoon. As it stands right now, your hairdresser has to be licensed, but not the person who draws your blood. I’m Roz Plater, reporting live from the Peninsula. [Dave McElhatton] Now Eyewitness News Is Everywhere! [Dana King] A Bay Area woman has filed a lawsuit saying she got hepatitis C after having her blood drawn by a technician accused of reusing needles. Medical expert Roz Plater has that story from the South Bay. [Roz Plater] In San Jose lawyers have filed a suit claiming a woman got hepatitis C after having her blood drawn by a lab worker state investigators say has admitted reusing disposable needles. Nearly 4,000 patients from the SmithKline Beecham lab and two other labs have been advised they need to be tested for HIV and hepatitis, but doctors say proving the source of a hepatitis infection can be tough. [Joanne Imperial] It’s very difficult to actually point to a source, especially because most of the patients that have been infected were infected decades ago. [Roz Plater] This is the third lawsuit filed in the case. I’m Roz Plater in the South Bay. [Terrilyn Joe] The technician reused her needles. Could it be what’s responsible for the spread of a highly contagious disease? [Dan Ashley] ABC 7 News, the Bay Area’s number one news with Dan Ashley, Terrilyn Joe, Spencer Christian, and Martin Dwyer. [Terrilyn Joe] Good evening I’m Terrilyn Joe [Dan Ashley] and I’m Dan Ashley. A new development tonight in that reuse needles case that has scared so many patients on the Peninsula. For the first time a patient has come forward claiming that she got a potentially life-threatening disease as a result, and now she’s suing. ABC 7’s Carolyn Tyler has our report. [Carolyn Tyler] This is the lawsuit that’s been filed by a 39 year old mother of three known only as Jane Doe. She says she contracted hepatitis C in 1997. [Richard Alexander] It’s impacted relationship with her husband, she’s been afraid to hold her children and to kiss them. [Carolyn Tyler] His client blames Elaine Giorgi. The lab technician has admitted reusing disposable needles, which she drew blood from patients at the SmithKline lab in Palo Alto. Health officials believe it’ll be hard to prove a direct link, but Jane Doe’s lawyer is confident. [Richard Alexander] Jane Doe will be having her doctors testify, as well as experts in infectious disease, and will be calling Elaine Giorgi to explain how this happened as well. [Carolyn Tyler] Though Jane Doe’s lawsuit is the first of its kind connected to the case, here at the Palo Alto Police Department they are investigating two or three other cases with similar complaints, including one detectives consider very credible. There could be criminal charges. [Jason Bosworth] It was really nothing under the law that covers, you know, something like this, but blood… the best thing that we’re looking at possibly be assault with a deadly weapon, considering the using the needle. [Carolyn Tyler] Both Giorgi and the SmithKline lab itself are also being investigated by the State Department of Health and there are two class-action lawsuits as well. The company has declined comment, but in a written statement a spokesman says “We continue to cooperate with the state in its investigation, and we continue to put the patients interests first.” So far nearly 4,000 patients have been warned they could be at risk for hepatitis and HIV. In the South Bay, Carolyn Tyler, ABC 7 News. [Dan Ashley] ABC 7 News, Bay Area’s number one news with Cheryl Jennings, Dan noise and Spencer Christian. Two people are now claiming they’ve contracted a potentially deadly virus from that Palo Alto blood lab where a worker has admitted reusing needles. Officials say both clients of the SmithKline Beecham lab have tested positive for the hepatitis C virus which can cause severe liver damage and one of them, mother of three, has brought a lawsuit against the lab where she had blood drawn two years ago. [Richard Alexander] She has been very ill and fatigued, and feeling of impacted, but there’s been no specific diagnosis as of yet. [Dan Ashley] Now SmithKline is not commenting on this yet, but medical experts say it is possible the two people could have contracted the virus from another source. From the South Bay’s News Leader News Channel 11 at 5:00 continues. Problems are mounting for SmithKline Beecham and a worker who reused needles to draw blood. Another lawsuit has been filed against SmithKline and technician Elaine Giorgi. The woman who filed the suit says she got hepatitis C when she visited the Palo Alto lab in 1997. [Richard Alexander] Only after she gave birth in March of 1997 that she was first seen by the phlebotomist at SmithKline and then diagnosed and received a notice in October 1997 that she in fact did have hepatitis. [Dan Ashley] The woman claims SmithKline and Giorgi caused her personal injury. The same law firm has filed another class-action lawsuit asking courts to medically monitor SmithKline’s labs. [Dana King] Every year about a million health care workers are accidentally stuck with dirty needles, but there’s a growing debate about how far employers and the government should go to protect workers against such a fate. In tonight’s special report Sharon Katsuda takes a look at life-saving technology. [Ellen Dayton] You know you talk to any nurse or doctor you know they’ve all had needle sticks. [Sharon Katsuda] It happens in the blink of an eye. A jerk of the hand, a moment of chaos, a life hangs in the balance, a needle used to treat a patient is now stuck inside the healthcare worker. [Ellen Dayton] I think it was just total shock. [Sharon Katsuda] Three years ago nurse Ellen Dayton was stuck with a needle she had just pulled out of a patient. That patient had hepatitis C and AIDS. Ellen waited hoping she hadn’t been infected. One month later she was diagnosed with hepatitis C. Within a year she was HIV positive. [Ellen Dayton] I just felt like I was kicked in the stomach. [Sharon Katsuda] Ellen Dayton’s story is not uncommon, each year nearly 1 million health care workers are stuck with needles and sharp objects. Diseases like hepatitis and AIDS can easily be spread from patient to healthcare worker. [Andrew Stern] It used to be when you’re a health care worker being stuck the first time with a needle was a badge of honor and now people realize it’s potentially a death sentence. [Gina Pugliese] You never know when a needle stick is going to happen. [Sharon Katsuda] Gina Pugliese chairs the National Committee on safer needle devices. She’s also a safety consultant for hospitals. Pugliese she says the incidence of developing HIV from a needle stick is low. The risk of contracting potentially deadly hepatitis B or C is much greater. [Gina Pugliese] I think we have a responsibility to protect our workers that are caring for us. [Sharon Katsuda] So why can’t safer needles be developed? You may be surprised to know they have. They’re designed with a shield to prevent needles from coming into contact with healthcare workers. So why are most workers are still at risk? One reason – money. While a standard needle used to draw blood would cost a hospital about six to eight cents each, a needle for drawing blood with a safety engineered feature cost a hospital about 22 to 25 cents each. Well, they may cost more, safety experts say in the long run using these devices pays off. [Gina Pugliese] A needle stick that causes HIV or AIDS in a nurse or in a health care worker, in a physician, could cost a hospital in workers compensation and treatment for the life of that healthcare worker. [Sharon Katsuda] But hospital representatives say money isn’t the reason. [Jack Lord] If we’ve changed to a new type of a needle or a new type of device everybody who works in the hospital, all those shifts have to be trained. [Sharon Katsuda] And training takes time, something today’s health care workers have very little of. But times are changing. California is the first state in the nation to require safer needles. In fact here, at the Santa Clara Valley Medical Center, they use two types of the safety devices. Twenty other states are considering laws like California. And while the debate goes on the healthcare workers continue to take their chances. [Ellen Dayton] It makes me so angry that it all comes down to money. You know, it’s not valuing human life, but it comes down to money. [Sharon Katsuda] Sharon Katsuda, News Channel 11. [Dana King] As for the cost of safer needles, manufacturers say prices may go down as demand goes up. [Dan Ashley] From the South Bay’s news leader, News Channel 11 at 11:00. Well, tonight police are confirming a second case of hepatitis C stemming from the Palo Alto lab worker who reused dirty needles. This one comes from an unidentified man who had blood drawn at the lab. Earlier today a woman, who also claims to have been infected, filed a lawsuit against both SmithKline Beecham and Elaine Giorgi, the lab tech. The suit was filed by a woman known only as Jane Doe. It’s the first suit to charge Giorgi with causing a patient to contract a disease. A plaintiff claims she also contracted hepatitis C, the potentially fatal disease that attacks the liver. [Richard Alexander] It’s impacted relationship with her husband, she’s been afraid to hold her children and kiss them, she’s had to be careful about where she places her toothbrush. [Dan Ashley] The same firm has also filed a class-action suit that accuses SmithKline have been improperly notifying and counseling patients. Police investigators hope to wrap up their case in the next few weeks. The DA will then decide if criminal charges will be filed against Giorgi.