WASHOE COUNTY, NEVADA — Tribal leaders of the Fort McDermitt Paiute and Shoshone Tribe are pleased an Indian Health Service (IHS) employee has been put on leave pending an investigation into whether or not 21 tribal citizens were exposed to HIV, Hepatitis or Hepatitis C on Wednesday, January 8, 2014 when improper medical procedures were conducted on the citizens.
The 21 citizens were tested for diabetes at the IHS facility on January. Even though needles were changed between patients, the suspended HIS employee allegedly used the same blood glucose pen repeatedly without proper sterilization. This practice is against IHS protocol.
Fort McDermitt Paiute and Shoshone McDeTribal Chair Tildon Smith told a Nevada television station: “the worker had a long list of complaints and reprimands, dating back to her hire last June. Smart also says that Indian Health Services has told exposed tribe members that they are not infected, before any test results have been returned.”
Most of the 21 patients were tested yesterday, January 15, for precautionary measures to determine whether or not they were exposed to any bloodborne diseases on January 8.
“There was an instance in which a blood sugar, finger-stick device was potentially used improperly,” said Dr. Marie Russell, deputy chief medical officer for the HIS’ area office in Phoenix.
“It was brought to our attention by a participant. We immediately removed any testing supplies and we are in the process still of understanding what occurred and investigating what happened,”
The tribal clinic under investigation is located near the Nevada-Oregon state line.