Hundreds of area vets may have been exposed to HIV

January 13, 2013 Updated Jan 13, 2013 at 12:45 AM EDT

By WKBW Internet

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January 13, 2013 Updated Jan 13, 2013 at 12:45 AM EDT

BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) - 716 patients at the Buffalo V.A. Hospital may have suffered exposure to serious blood-borne illnesses like HIV and Hepatitis-B and Hepatitis-C, according a memo for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs obtained by Eyewitness News.

The memo states that between October 2010 and November 1, 2012, the patients may have been exposed by the reuse of insulin pens.

"The intent being that these cartridges be used only on a single patient. They obviously changed the needles each time, but they should have been putting a patients name on a cartridge so that it would never be used on someone else," said Congressman Chris Collins.

The discovery of the error was made during a routine pharmacy inspection, when staff located insulin pens without patient labels.

A department spokesperson said in a statement that once the discovery was made:

"Immediate action was taken to ensure the insulin pens were labeled and only used according to pharmaceutical guidelines."

The hospital is now reaching out to the 570 living patients who may have been exposed to set-up blood testing at no cost to ensure no illnesses were spread.

The VA is also setting up a call center to field questions from concerned veterans.

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