To date, nearly 90 cases of hepatitis C may be linked to the Las Vegas Endoscopy Center of Southern Nevada. The clinic notified 50,000 patients of possible exposure to the virus, and if more tests continue to come back positive, this case will surpass the damages of a similar disaster that occurred at a Nebraska oncology clinic in 2000.
In the small, farming community of Fremont, Nebraska, townspeople welcomed Dr. Tahir Javed, an acclaimed doctor as the first full-time oncologist at the new, local cancer treatment center. But the fanfare soon turned into a nightmare when 857 cancer patients were subjected to a deadly, blood-borne virus passed on by reused, contaminated syringes during chemotherapy treatments.
In all, ninety-nine of these patients were diagnosed with the hepatitis C virus, making this incident the largest healthcare-transmission outbreak in United States history, to date.
While undergoing breast cancer treatment at the Fremont clinic, Evelyn McKnight contracted the virus. Her new book, A Never Event (a term used to describe a preventable healthcare tragedy) chronicles the true account of her experience, as well as the stories of several other victims of the outbreak.
“If you plan on receiving healthcare in the future, this book is a must-read,” says Ms. McKnight. “The factors that caused my tragedy still occur in healthcare facilities throughout the country.”
Ms. McKnight, along with co-author Travis Bennington, an attorney who represented nineteen of the outbreak’s victims, and in conjunction with Dr. Thomas McKnight, has created the advocacy organization HONOReform. The non-profit foundation has received enormous attention from CBS Evening News, CNN’s America Morning, USA Today, The Associated Press and Newsday.
“We started HONOReform to promote patient safety, justice and compassion,” says Ms. McKnight. “As soon as I knew I was infected because of medical malpractice, I promised that any monetary award I would gain from this horrible experience would be used to help others.”
While A Never Event reveals the story of the Nebraska hepatitis C outbreak there have been 70,000 patients in cities throughout America that have received letters notifying them of possible exposure to blood-borne diseases. These facts are startling:
e In the United States, there have been fourteen documented outbreaks of hepatitis since 1999. Among the affected are forty-two patients in New York City and 102 (some of which are cases of hepatitis B) in Oklahoma
e Healthcare providers have reused syringes and other equipment to save time and money, so they can cram more procedures (and profits) into a day’s schedule.
e During the discovery of the Nebraska outbreak, Dr. Tahir Javed fled the country to the Middle East.
e Every person who receives healthcare is potentially at risk of suffering a similar fate, particularly if they receive injections of any kind.
“I went to the doctor to be healed, and I came away with a life-threatening illness,” says Ms. McKnight. “There is a huge sense of betrayal.”
“History untold is history repeated,” says co-author Travis Bennington. “By telling the story of the Nebraska hepatitis C tragedy, we hope future communities will be spared such pain and suffering.”
Please feel free to contact the authors directly through their Website: www.HonoReform.org.
(A Never Event by Evelyn McKnight and Travis Bennington; ISBN: 0980058287; $16.95; 352 pages; 5½” x 8½”; softcover; Arbor Books, Inc.)