Children's Health

Teacher fired after instructing students to prick fingers with needles, reuse them



A biology teacher in North Carolina was fired last Thursday after she allowed students in a biology class to prick their own fingers with lancing needles as part of a blood typing experiment, Medical Daily reported.  The students were then instructed to swab the needles with alcohol so that later classes could reuse them.

According to the teacher, Miyoshi McMillan, there were seven blood-testing kits already in the classroom at Overhills High School in Spring Lake, N.C. before she began the experiment.  The kits contained synthetic blood and lancets, which could be used to draw blood from students who chose to participate.  

However, Patricia Harmon-Lewis, a spokeswoman for Overhills High School, said McMillan added the lancet portion of the experiment without getting permission from the school, and the students were only supposed to use the synthetic blood on viewing slides.

“The teacher decided that it would be an addition to the experiment to have students actually take a lancet and prick their own fingers using their blood," Harmon-Lewis told WTVD-TV.

According to the students, McMillan allowed them to either prick their fingers with the lancets or write five-page essays. They were then told to clean the lancets with rubbing alcohol so that other classes could reuse them.  Eventually, one student left the classroom in protest, prompting McMillan to call her parents – who then alerted the school’s assistant principals.

McMillan was a lateral-entry teacher, meaning she had experience in biology, but was still working on obtaining her North Carolina teacher’s license.  She claims the school is overreacting to the experiment and that the controversy surrounding it has turned into a “character strike” against her.

"The kids did not get a straight needle put into them," McMillan said. "I really believe that the children will be fine. My main concern is the safety of the children."

According to the Centers for Disease Control, sharing needles and other blood monitoring devices is the easiest way to spread blood-based pathogens – such as hepatitis B virus and HIV.  However, no health issues have yet been reported among the 11 students involved in the experiment.

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