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Two negligence suits against Buffalo VA dismissed

Two separate negligence suits against the VA Medical Center in Buffalo have been dismissed, U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy Jr. announced Friday.

In January 2013, the VA admitted that 716 of its patients could have been exposed to Hepatitis B or C or HIV because of the misuse of insulin pens on diabetic patients between Oct. 19, 2010, and Nov. 1, 2012. The insulin-delivery devices are designed to be used on one person each, but the hospital said at the time that some of the pens may have been used on multiple patients.

After the revelations, the VA said 20 patients tested positive for hepatitis but the VA Office of Healthcare Inspections investigated and found "no documented cases of transmitting blood-borne pathogens related to the use of an insulin pen on multiple patients."

Lenray Harris filed a claim against the VA saying she suffered emotional injuries following the disclosure about the insulin pens. Harris had been treated at the VA following knee replacement. She said she'd been given insulin and feared she had contracted a blood-borne disease. But U.S. District Judge Elizabeth A. Wolford dismissed the suit because Harris "cannot support a claim for negligent infliction of emotional distress."

Also, U.S. Magistrate Judge Hugh B. Scott recommended dismissal of another suit filed by Archie Maxwell who was treated at the VA for diabetes in 2011 and 2012 and that in February 2013, he tested positive for Hepatitis B. The judge said, “There is no record of any patient, including plaintiff, being infected from use of the insulin pens, thus plaintiff fails to prove actual exposure to HIV or Hepatitis C.”

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