AUPE defends nurses after used needles reused on patients in High Prairie

The Alberta Union of Provincial Employees charges that unsound practices should not be blamed on front-line workers.
That’s its take on confirmation that up to 2,700 patients—very likely most of them children—need to be tested for HIV and hepatitis, because a handful of nurses at the hospital in High Prairie, in the Alberta Peace, injected drugs with used syringes for nearly two decades.
Union President Doug Knight is quoted as saying “We do not think it would be in any way appropriate for blame in this case to be assigned to working people who are doing their best in very difficult circumstances.”
However, Margaret Hadley, president of the College and Association of Registered Nurses of Alberta, says there’s an onus on registered nurses to be aware of infection control standards and, to ensure that they’re being followed.
She adds, “Part of that behaviour is expecting them to question any policy or procedures, that are inconsistent with patient safety.”
The problem in High Prairie was discovered earlier this month by a manager, who observed a nurse using a used syringe. It then took three weeks to sort out which patients may have been infected and whether blood testing was required.
High Prairie has a population of only 3,000, but administers to 17,000 in its service area.
Patients are now being contacted by phone and registered mail for testing, which will be co-ordinated by Alberta Health.