Dr. Evelyn McKnight is a nationally recognized patient safety advocate, survivor of one of the largest viral outbreaks in American healthcare history, and an amputee who shares her experiences learning to live with one arm.
An audiologist and mother of three, Evelyn was battling a recurrence of breast cancer when she learned she had been infected with hepatitis C during her treatment. 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 experience was, she was not alone. A total of 99 patients – all of whom were gravely ill and waging the battle of their lives against cancer – were infected.
Throughout her draining physical and emotional healing process, Evelyn dug 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 healthcare providers to follow fundamental injection safety practices. Astonishingly, this failure continues, particularly in outpatient clinics and ambulatory surgery centers throughout the United States.
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 focused on programs designed to prevent future outbreaks. The work of HONOReform helped pave the way for CDC authorities, state injection safety educators and volunteers to continue educating professionals and consumers about injection safety. It also facilitated the creation of the CDC’s One & Only Campaign to raise awareness of safe injection practices and the Evelyn and Thomas McKnight Family Fund for Patient Safety.
Evelyn and Travis co-authored A Never Event: Exposing the Largest Outbreak of Hepatitis C in American Healthcare History. Evelyn has traveled the nation to urge healthcare professionals and lawmakers to better safeguard the injection safety process for all Americans. 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 motivation and support to people across the country who have been affected by unsafe injection practices.
In 2018, after 16 years since her last cancer occurence, Evelyn consulted a neurosurgeon about persistent, debilitating pain in her right shoulder. She was diagnosed with a large radiation induced sarcoma, which caused progressive loss of function in her arm. The tumor was not responsive to chemotherapy. To remove the cancer and reduce the pain, Evelyn underwent radical surgery to amputate her arm and shoulder. So began a new journey learning to live and thrive with one arm as a student and resource curator at her “One Arm University.”
To contact Evelyn, please send an email to evelynmcknight99 [at] gmail.com