Kaiser Cuts Ties with Doctor for Allegedly Reusing Syringes

A doctor accused of exposing patients to infection by reusing syringes for decades is no longer working at the Kaiser Permanente San Jose Medical Center.

Hospital officials said Kaiser stopped working with Stanford University-trained anesthesiologist David Reese Rummell at the end of September, exactly a year after alerting the Medical Board of California about the allegations.

“Kaiser Permanente reported the physician to the medical board in 2019 and will continue to cooperate with the medical board’s ongoing investigation,” a spokesman for the Oakland-based healthcare company, told San Jose Inside in an email.

Dr. David Rummell

A complaint filed against Rummell by the medical board says the allegations surfaced in September 2019 when a anesthesiology technician told higher-ups that the doctor routinely used the same syringe on multiple patients.

Staff notified administration, which launched a probe.

Initially, per investigators, Dr. Rummell acknowledged reusing syringes to save money and time and to avoid waste. He reportedly explained that he changed the needle for each patient, but used the same syringe.

“Respondent posited that the valve system on the intravenous lines, location of the medication injection point and use of alcohol swabs rendered his practice safe,” the medical board claim reads.

Days after that first talk with investigators, however, Dr. Rummell recanted his earlier admissions, according to state officials.

When the medical board followed up with its own inquiry, Rummell reportedly admitted to the practice once again, saying he’d been doing it for decades and that he thought it was fine because it saved time and resources. He also claimed that, to his knowledge, no one ever came down with an infection from a reused syringe—a conclusion authorities say he reached by following up with patients by email within 24 hours of their procedure.

“When asked about statements made during the hospital inquiry indicating syringe reuse was not his practice, respondent stated that he was counseled to 'muddy the waters’ by denying misconduct,” the medical board complaint states.

State officials say Dr. Rummell recycled syringes for an untold number of years despite his own hospital forbidding the practice since at least 2004 and issuing revised procedures in 2016 that clearly denounced reuse “even if the needle or cannula on the syringe is changed,” per the complaint.

Officials added that Rummel’s insistence that reuse was safe also flew in the face of  “common knowledge and understanding among anesthesiologists that this practice was inappropriate, posed a real risk of infection and was far outside the standard of care.”

As a result of the allegations, the medical board is trying to revoke or suspend Rummel’s license. Attempts to reach Rummell for comment were unsuccessful.


  1. Urg! As a patient at San Jose Kaiser this infuriates me. Both me and my husband has had surgery there. All his patients should be notified by Kaiser

  2. Kaiser NEEDS to implement and hold physicians accountable for their actions IMMEDIATELY. Anything that puts members at risk or mistreatment/abuse of staff is unacceptable. Kaiser Permanente strives to provide the best medical care possible to everyone. Don’t let anyone destroy all the hard work and the good reputation that the rest has worked so hard to earn.

  3. I had surgery last year and happy this doctor was not assigned to me. I am grateful for the fine surgeons, nurses and anesthesiologists that did attend to me. Thank God for the Whistler blower.

  4. Looks like Kaiser is not able to keep an eye on the quality of doctors and services provided.

    I’m struggling from last few months with severe pain due to procedures done in wrong manner by a Kaiser Doctor. Went for those stomac peocedures as preventive care exams and regretting it every moment getting it done by a kaiser doctor.
    Kaiser havs done nothing to help me get out of this painful situation. Trying to get help from outside kaiser now. Kaiser need to wake up, cant keep playing with lives like that

  5. As covid has killed 200,000 in the US, remember that some medical errors kills over 250,000 every year, with zero press. Going to the doctor may be more risky than the Chinese virus

  6. Actually Kaiser has had clearly a higher standard of care then most private hospitals. Kaiser regularly reviews practices and outcomes of providers and practices. We have had Kaiser for over 50 years my husband born 65 years ago at Kaiser Oakland, had all 3 of my children born at Kaiser and never had bad care. I have had Dr. Rummell many times as my anesthesiologist without any issues over last 25 years. Private hospitals have poor oversight. My mother recently was seen in Grass Valley at Sierra Nevada Hospital 3 times, one of the times because of the horrific pain went via ambulance, the ED removed her IV and had her wait in the waiting room for a woman who cannot sit for any length of time and crying in pain, then again had the WORSE treatment and care for a crush injury to her hand and now has a permanent debilitating damage.

  7. Dr. Rummell is a dedicated anesthesiologist for all his patients.The record speaks for itself.
    The article is biased , mainly directed by HR of Kaiser.Pity.

  8. So you’re saying he didn’t do what he admitted to doing? You’re correct his record does speak for itself. He admitted to doing this for decades…that’s his record…once again for emphasis…THAT HE ADMITTED TO.

  9. There’s no patient that got hurt or die
    after each surgery using the same anesthesia to each patient as long as the needle were changed per investigation. The technician was responsible for preparing needed by the Anesthesiologist prior to performing the anesthesia prior to surgery.
    In the third world countries they sterilized needles and syringes several times. Cotton was used to run to the needles to make sure that the tip of the needle is still sharp that no trace cotton prior to use. Dr. Rummel and the Technician needs to be question too.
    Was the technician served as long as Dr Rummel. Hard to find a Doctor if Dr. Rummel served longer than the technician who’s has more credibility.

  10. He provided anesthesia for me and my family members over the years. Always a very good doctor, never had any problem with his care. He called the next day to ask how I was doing, I’d never heard of other anesthesiologists doing that.

  11. Dr. Rummel did not follow the guide lines set up by the CDC & anesthesiologist society! To bad ! Many people were exposed to diseases they probably would not want.
    I think he should go to jail & have his license revoked.
    As an Anesthesia provider he knew better but did not follow the rules.

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