Many people have needle phobia – officially 10% of American adults, but “it is likely that the actual number is larger, as the most severe cases are never documented due to the tendency of the sufferer to simply avoid all medical treatment.” That can’t be good either.
One South Carolina doctor says “seven out of 10 of his patients are afraid of shots.” He’s trying to solve that problem by pushing flu shots with new, smaller needles. Others have tried different remedies (like “Jet Injectors [which] work by introducing substances into the body through a jet of high pressure gas [which] eliminates the needle [but] causes more pain,” or “Inhalation General Anesthesia” [which] will eliminate all pain and also all memory of any needle procedure.” Who knew the Men in Black Neuralyzer was actually real? Yikes.) In other words, treatments for needle phobia are generally dreadful. Unfortunately, today’s PopTort, which adds to the recent glut of news stories about contaminated needles, isn’t going to help.
Let’s even put aside discussion of new stories (like here, here) about just how disgusting and unsanitary the New England Compounding Center has turned out to be, responsible for producing contaminated steroid shots, mostly for back pain, resulting in the deadly meningitis outbreak. It was just announced that 17 people from Western Pennsylvania have sued and are seeking class action status on behalf of those potentially exposed to hepatitis C at UPMC and Maxim Healthcare Services after David Kwiatkowski, a former UPMC radiology technician, infected syringes “after he used them to feed his drug addiction.”
According to the complaint, on May 7, 2008, a UPMC hospital employee saw Mr. Kwiatkowski enter an operating room, lift his shirt and put a syringe in his pants. The hospital found that the syringe contained fentanyl, a painkiller. Other syringes were found on him and in his locker. He was terminated, but continued to be employed by Maxim, a staffing agency...
UPMC has already been sued by patients of other hospitals in other states alleging that the hospital system and Maxim did not report Mr. Kwiatkowski to any government agency.
In the two years after he worked in Pittsburgh, Mr. Kwiatkowski went on to work in at least eight more hospitals, including Johns Hopkins in Baltimore from July 2009 to January 2010, and Hays Medical Center in Hays, Kan., in May 2010.
One of the worst outbreaks was at Exeter hospital in New Hampshire, where the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services recently said the hospital now may lose its Medicare provider agreement. Explains the Associated Press,
The agency’s inspection was triggered by the case of David Kwiatkowski, a former cardiac catheterization lab worker who is accused of stealing drugs from the hospital and replacing them with tainted syringes that were later used on patients. Thirty-two people have been diagnosed with the same strain of hepatitis C he carries since the investigation began in May.…
Kwiatkowski, a traveling medical worker whom prosecutors describe as a "serial infector," was hired in Exeter in April 2011 after working in 18 hospitals in Arizona, Georgia, Kansas, Maryland, Michigan, New York and Pennsylvania.
He moved from hospital to hospital despite having been fired twice over allegations of drug use and theft. Thousands of patients in those states are being tested to see if they, too, were infected with hepatitis C, a sometimes life-threatening virus. A handful of patients in Kansas also have been found to carry the same strain Kwiatkowski carries.
Incredibly, while all this was going on, New Hampshire lawmakers decided to enact a terrible, anti-patient law that will reduce the accountability of negligent hospitals, over the objection of the Governor whose veto was overridden, the state’s powerful Union Leader newspaper, medical malpractice insurers, patients and attorneys.
To be a phobia, the fear has to be somewhat irrational. Yet every day, we’re bombarded with stories about people dying from contaminated needle injections in medical settings. Meanwhile, lawmakers continue to pass laws trying to solve the massive problem of medical negligence on the backs of injured patients. So who’s irrational now?