Firefighters receive wrong injection |

Firefighters receive wrong injection

by F.T. Norton

Six Carson City firefighters undergoing yearly tuberculosis screening this week were accidentally injected with a serum to combat tetanus.

“At this point, nobody is in danger. We are looking into what happened,” said Tony Baker of Carson City’s risk-management office. “Apparently, there was some mistake as far as administering the TB shots.”

The mistake, said Capt. Bob Schreihans of the Carson City Fire Department, was made by a nurse at Concentra Medical Center, which contracts with the city to provide medical services.

He said six of the 17 firefighters at the Deer Run clinic for their tuberculosis shots had received the treatment on Tuesday when paramedic Tom Raw noticed the vials from which the nurse was drawing the medications were labeled “tetanus.”

A tetanus shot, which can be given as a booster or to prevent infection from an injury, should be administered deeply into a muscle for slow release. If, as happened Tuesday, the shot is improperly administered, the tetanus antioxidant can cause swelling and ulcers on the skin, Raw said.

“When she saw the vial,” Raw said, “she said, ‘Oops!'”

He said the nurse was embarrassed by the mistake and quickly corrected it, re-injecting those who had received the wrong medication with the proper one and finishing with the remainder of the firefighters.

For firefighter J.R. Maxfield, who received the wrong injection, a puss-filled sore that is hot to the touch, is growing on his arm at a painful rate. Eventually, it will burst and leave an ulcer, he suspects. “Right now, my body is fighting the infection there,” Maxfield said. “It hurts a little.”

“Mistakes happen,” Schreihans said. “But six times in a row is an issue. Concentra needs to look at their protocol.”

Meanwhile, a Carson City inmate initially suspected to have tuberculosis received a clean bill of health Thursday, Carson City Sheriff’s Lt. Ken Sandage said.

Sandage said during a routine screening of inmates, one test appeared to come back positive. Further testing at Carson-Tahoe Hospital proved that was incorrect. As soon as officials learned of the possible infection, they notified the other inmates and separated the one from the general population, said Sheriff Ken Furlong. That notification prompted inmates to tell their families, who in turn began to call the sheriff’s department to express concern.

“Everything’s safe at the jail. Parents can stop worrying,” said Undersheriff Steve Albertsen. “We did take precautions and isolated the person for the protection of the inmates and our employees. We have procedures in place.”

Contact F.T. Norton at or 881-1213.