Investigation into CTC continues; more students possibly affected

Lakeidra Chavis and Elika Roohi/ Sun Star Reporters

April 15, 2014

Failure to check

Administrators are continuing to investigate the policies and procedures of the Community and Technical College Allied Health program, after students repeatedly injected themselves with an incorrect solution that resulted in skin irritation, burns and other side effects.

In late February, students in the Clinical Procedures II class contacted administrators.

“They were concerned about the label on the bottle,” Chancellor Brian Rogers said.

The students were using a solution called Sodim Chlorde, which is commonly used in injection classes on injection pads and dummies. The name is initially spelled wrong so it won’t be confused with the real solution.

Students receive their own vial and injected themselves with the solution possibly as many as 10 times, according to Rogers.

Students reported burning sensations, skin irritation, divots, or small indentations in the skin, and stomach problems, although the reports varied.

On March 6, president of the medical supplies company Pocket Nurse, Anthony Battaglia, sent a letter to the chair of the Allied Health department stating that the solutions used in the Clinical Procedures II course should be stopped immediately. Students had been injecting themselves with unsanitized solutions of Sodim Chlorde, instead of Sodium Chloride, commonly known as saline.

“All of the demo dose products that Pocket Nurse sells are clearly labeled on their labels, packaging and any documentation that the products are not to be used on human beings or animals,” the letter said. Battaglia went on to ask that,  UAF, “stop using the Demo Dose products and that all students who were improperly injected receive qualified medical attention.”

The solution was used in both the spring 2014 and the fall 2013 version of the class, and as many as 30 students could be affected.

Even after some students raised concerns, they were still instructed to use the solution, according to the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.

“Clearly, there’s been a failure to communicate the hazards to students, beyond the program, and that’s a violation of procedures. Clearly, it shouldn’t have happened in the first place,” Rogers said.

The course instructor, Sherry Wolf, was placed on investigatory leave, and her contract will not be renewed.

When practicing injections, each student received their own vial. The vials were collected and taken to an environmental lab for testing, according to Rogers.

Preliminary test results revealed that the solutions were water and .05 percent of rubbing alcohol.

In early April, further lab results showed that some of the vials had separate bacteria strands others.

Moving forward

Aside from injecting themselves with a solution unfit for human use, students are now suffering from a loss of class time. For the last several weeks, periods usually devoted to instruction have been spent talking about different aspects of the incident and investigation. Students have been integral to figuring out many of the details, Rogers said.

The university is offering extra tutoring for the course so students can complete the class as scheduled. UAF is also covering the cost of any medical checkups related to the injections.

Due to unclear information about when and why the Allied Health program began using the Demo Dose solution for human injections after the program realized they shouldn’t be using it on students in 2010, the university is contacting all 154 students who have ever graduated from the program.

“That is a clear failing that the news from the first time didn’t keep us from ordering any more,” Rogers said.

Going forward, UAF will be implementing a more stringent review process for items used in the classroom. Previously, it was enough that the professor was a registered nurse in the state of Alaska. According to Michele Stalder, the Dean of CTC, there will be more checks in place in the future.

The Clinical Procedures class will have fewer human injections as a part of their curriculum, according to Rogers. Students will practice on mannequins and pads, in addition to each other. Health programs across the U.S. typically use a combination of both kinds of practice injections, according to Rogers. 

Administrators will continue to review the policies and the course will not be offered until they have done so, according to Rogers. Clinical Procedures I is currently offered as a summer course but that might change if procedures are not updated beforehand.

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