WHERE WERE HIS BRAINS.........or just laziness???
Copyright 2002 The Daily Oklahoman
THE DAILY OKLAHOMAN...09/11/2002
Jim Killackey, Staff Writer
A Norman nurse anesthetist "regularly engaged in the
practice of re-using the same needle and syringe" for at least 15
patients a day at a Norman Regional Hospital pain management
clinic, according to a report released Tuesday by the state Health
James C. Hill discontinued the practice after he was reported to
the hospital's peer review board, state epidemiologist Dr. Mike
Crutcher said in a report to Oklahoma Board of Nursing investigator Betty Smelser. Hill, 55, is a certified registered nurse anesthetist. Repeated attempts to contact Hill were unsuccessful.
The two agencies are investigating blood contamination that led
to six patients contracting hepatitis C and 350 patients being
tested for hepatitis and for HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.
A class action lawsuit was filed Tuesday in Cleveland County
District Court against Norman Regional Hospital and Dr. Jerry W.
The suit claims patients at the clinic were exposed to hepatitis
C, hepatitis B and HIV because of negligence and breaches in
standards of care.
In the report to the nursing board, Crutcher notes that: "Prior
to June, 2002, Mr. Hill reports that he regularly engaged in the
practice of reusing the same needle and syringe to inject
anesthetic medications such as Versed, Fentanyl and Propofol to as many as 15-25 patients in one day through the existing heparin lock."
The anesthetic medications were given to calm patients before
spinal block injections were administered a short time later by
Lewis, a pain management specialist who was Hill's physician
"Mr. Hill subsequently discontinued this practice," Crutcher
stated in the report. "Mr. Hill reports that he no longer has a
physician sponsor, and therefore is not practicing currently. He is
aware of the current investigation and is cooperating fully."
The report was obtained through an Open Records Act request by The Oklahoman.
Lewis and Hill had staff privileges at Norman Regional but were
not hospital employees. They no longer have staff privileges.
A public records check of the 409 certified registered nurse
anesthetists practicing in Oklahoma indicated that only one, Hill,
lives in Norman. The Board of Nursing certified Hill in 1978. He
was certified as a nurse anesthetist in 1991.
Hill has been routinely recertified during his career in
Oklahoma. No complaints have been filed with the Board of Nursing.
Bill M. Lamb, 61, the plaintiff in the lawsuit, said he was
shocked and frightened.
"With the advances they have in medicine these days, to let
something like this happen is unacceptable," Lamb said Tuesday.
Lamb, a retiree from Tinker Air Force Base, said he was treated
with epidural injections in the lower back twice this year by Lewis
While he noticed nothing unusual at the time of the injections,
Lamb said he now has trouble sleeping and eating because of fears associated with hepatitis and HIV.
Lamb said he received a letter dated Sept. 6 from Crutcher and
hospital Chief Executive David Whitaker outlining the need for one blood examination now and another in three months to test for hepatitis and HIV.
"Although we have no evidence that other types of infections
have occurred in this clinic, hepatitis B and HIV testing are also
routinely recommended in this type of situation," the letter reads.
The six patients who tested positive for hepatitis C are
recovering. About 350 patients seen between Dec. 31 and Aug. 19 need blood tests to determine whether they have the disease.
"It is unfortunate that the recent health concern being
addressed by Norman Regional Hospital has sparked a race to the Courthouse on the part of lawyers trying to get cases on file even before the facts are known," Glen D. Huff, Norman Regional's attorney, said Tuesday in a statement.
"We would hope the public recognizes that Norman Regional
Hospital has been the moving force behind this investigation, even
though it involves health care providers who were not employed by
the hospital and for whom the hospital is not legally responsible."
The plaintiffs' attorneys, David L. Thomas and Jerry L.
Breathwit, said their clients are entitled to recover the costs of
periodic medical monitoring "to determine whether or not they have in fact contracted hepatitis C or other illnesses as a result of
Lewis has denied any wrongdoing.
"The problem did not originate from the manner in which Dr.
Lewis performed any of the procedures," according to a statement issued by his office Monday.