A nurse anesthetist working at a Norman, Okla., regional hospital pain management clinic has been found to have reused needles and syringes among at least 15 patients per day, putting hundreds of patients at risk for HIV and hepatitis C infection, according to a report released Tuesday by the Oklahoma Department of Health. The nurse, James Hill, is being investigated after six patients at the clinic developed hepatitis C. Another 350 patients were possibly treated with reused needles or syringes by Hill between December 31, 2001, and August 19, 2002.
The health department report says Hill reused the needles when giving patients injections of anesthetics before other procedures at the clinic. Hill is currently not practicing medicine, pending the final results of the state's investigation. The hospital, Hill, and a doctor at the clinic have been sued by at least one of the patients who was exposed to hepatitis C.