Evelyn’s Story

  • Dr. Evelyn McKnight is a nationally recognized patient safety advocate and survivor of one of the largest viral outbreaks in American health care history. Dr. McKnight turned her own personal tragedy into a crusade to save lives.

    Evelyn is co-founder and president of HONOReform, which stands for Hepatitis Outbreaks’ National Organization for Reform. She is co-author of A Never Event: Exposing the Largest Outbreak of Hepatitis C in American Healthcare History (www.aNeverEvent.com), in which she and co-author attorney Travis Bennington detail the 2002 Nebraska outbreak.

    An audiologist and mother of three, McKnight was battling a recurrence of breast cancer when she learned she had been infected with hepatitis C during her treatment. The reason? Nurses working under the direction of her oncologist had reused syringes to access multi-dose vials of saline used as part of her treatment regimen.

    As tragic as Evelyn’s story is, she was not alone.

    Rather, a total of 99 patients – all of whom were gravely ill and waging the battle of their lives against cancer – were infected in what is the largest single source outbreak in American health care history.

    Throughout a draining physical and emotional healing process during which her oncologist fled the United States and was never held accountable for his actions, Evelyn dug deeper into the underlying causes of the Nebraska hepatitis C outbreak. What she discovered was a shockingly inadequate level of protection for patients caused by widespread failure of health care providers to follow fundamental, basic injection safety practices. Astonishingly, this failure, particularly in outpatient clinics and ambulatory surgery centers throughout the United States, continues.

    Realizing lessons needed to be learned, Evelyn rededicated her life to saving the lives of countless others by fighting to improve America’s injection safety practices. Using the money awarded through her legal settlement, Evelyn, her husband, Dr. Tom McKnight, and Nebraska attorney, Travis Bennington, co-founded HONOReform Foundation, a 501(c)(3) that focuses on programs designed to prevent future outbreaks.

    Since founding the organization, Evelyn has traveled the nation to urge health care professionals and lawmakers to better safeguard the injection safety process for all Americans…so no other patients and their families are forced to endure similar tragedies. Evelyn presents at local, regional and national conferences; she recently presented at conferences led by AANA, APIC, the CDC and the CDC Foundation, and she presented at the World Vaccine Congress, among many others. All honoraria she receives help support the efforts of HONOReform.

    In recent years, Evelyn has testified and worked with federal and state lawmakers on legislation to protect patients, has helped public health officials to respond to outbreaks, and has provided inspirational and motivational compassion and support to people across the country who have been affected by unsafe injection practices. 

  • Cinderblocks: Evelyn McKnight IGNITE SPEECH

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