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Olean General faces lawsuits over possible hepatitis infections

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Three former patients have filed a lawsuit against Olean General Hospital, claiming they were infected with hepatitis after the hospital reused insulin pens. Olean General said more than 1,900 former patients might have been exposed to HIV and Hepatitis B and C because of possible reuse from November of 2009 through January of this year. 

Buffalo attorney John Elmore filed the lawsuit in Cattaraugus County Court in Little Valley Monday...

"When some body has Hepatitis it effects their liver," said Elmore.

At the time, WBFO News asked Olean General president and CEO Timothy Finan if the hospital was worried about lawsuits.

"We don't know that it occurred, at all," Finan said. 'To the extent it did occur [and] there are infections, I can't speak to that."

Since that time, Cattaraugus County public health officials reported that at least 12 people have tested positive for hepatitis after receiving care at Olean General. 

Attorney Elmore says that includes his three clients.  One was notified by the hospital that he tested negative, then he received a call the next day that they made a mistake and he did test positive Hepatitis.

Elmore is certain his client was exposed to Hepatitis during his hospital stay.

"He's now in his 80's," said Elmore.  "He went to the hospital for a minor procedure. He had a hernia, and now he has Hepatitis.  He certainly didn't contract the Hepatitis from kissing a tooth fair."

The suit is also being filed against the makers of the insulin pens used at the hospital.  Elmore says the suit will seek assistance for future medical care needed for the clients to deal with living with hepatitis. 

Elmore says the lawsuit will be served on the defendants shortly.  Under the law, they will have 15-days to respond with an answer.

Olean General was the second area hospital to announce the possible contamination from reused pens. The Veterans Administration in Buffalo also discovered the same potential issue.     

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