Healthcare Worker's Oversight Puts Over 600 Students At Risk For HIV

FacebookUniversity of Derby Vice Chancellor John Coyne: circumstances are "deeply regrettable."

Well, this is pretty bad. The U.K.'s University of Derby is reaching out to over 600 students who may have been put at risk of HIV and hepatitis, advising them to screen for the infections immediately. The reason? A healthcare worker who failed to change the syringe barrel during routine blood tests and vaccinations.

There's being bad at your job, and then...well...then there's this.

In a classic example of British understatement, John Coyne, vice chancellor of the University of Derby, described the circumstances as "deeply regrettable."

The mistake didn't just happen once or twice. An investigation carried out by NHS England determined that the oversight occurred over eight years, putting 606 students at risk between September 2005 and October 2013.

"This investigation has taken place as it is understood that, whilst syringe needles were always changed between patients, the syringe barrels to which the needles attach were being reused in the administration of vaccines," Dr. Doug Black, an NHS medical director, told Daily Mail. "This also occurred during blood taking, where a single use holder for a blood collection tube was reused but needles changed."

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Black said that the risk of contracting hepatitis B, hepatitis C or HIV as a result of the errors was "extremely low," but that's bound to be little comfort to the students waiting to see the results of their blood work.

The worker, who was unnamed, has been suspended pending the investigation, while the school has set up a help line and invited students to attend screenings. All in all, it's a sobering reminder of the human capacity for error--not that that's a newsflash, exactly. It's just that in some jobs, when you make a mistake, you lose the company some money or maybe mess up your reputation. In others, you make a mistake, and 600 people have to go see a doctor to make sure they're not dying.

In other news, you want to know what doesn't make mistakes? ROBOTS.

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