Albuquerque, NM—Students in the University of New Mexico’s Physician Assistant Program were performing complimentary diabetes tests when something went horribly wrong. A single needle was used to conduct blood sugar tests on up to 55 participants, thus leaving them at risk of serious blood-borne diseases. The community service calamity occurred at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center on Saturday, April 24, 2010, as reported by the New Mexico Business Weekly.
Reports indicate the UNM students conducted the free blood sugar tests during the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center’s American Indian Week “Pueblo Days”.
Although faculty members were supervising the students at the time, the following errors were made:
• The device being used to test the participants was meant for single patient use ONLY.
• The students were not adequately trained on how to use the device.
• No records, including participant contact information, were collected.
As a result, students used the same device to prick the fingers of up to 55 individuals. Since blood was drawn each time, several might have been put at risk of contracting adverse ailments including hepatitis B and C, or even HIV.
According to Dr. Bob Bailey, associate dean for clinical affairs at the UNM School of Medicine, “This has never happened before… Since the incident, we have taken steps to assure this does not happen again.”
Dr. Bailey, who was the incident commander for the diabetes test program, noted, “The diseases we are most concerned about are Hepatitis B and C, although theoretically HIV is also possible… Our best current assessment of the risk of infection is less than a 0.5 percent risk. Even though the risk is small, it is something we are very concerned about and are taking seriously.”
UNM, along with officials from the New Mexico Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), are currently working on identifying the participants who underwent diabetes tests during the event.
Individuals who were tested for diabetes at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center in Albuquerque are urged to contact UNM to undergo precautionary follow-up testing. Participants are advised to contact UNM toll-free at (888) 899-6092 or online by clicking here.
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