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Hospital Glucose Monitors Overlooked as Infection Source

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, August 14, 2012

The federal investigation of New Hampshire's Exeter Hospital hepatitis outbreak linked to suspicions of drug diversion by a healthcare worker reveals an underappreciated potential source of infection in all healthcare organizations—the inadequate cleaning of blood glucose monitors.

"It's not well appreciated in the healthcare community that these devices should be cleaned and disinfected in between patients; that's something that's only now being realized," says Joseph Perz, Prevention Team Leader for the Division of Healthcare Quality and Promotion for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"Sometimes the first time that a facility is even aware of that requirement, unfortunately, is when they undergo inspection," Perz says.  He adds that disease investigators have in the last few years, "identified a lack of cleaning and disinfection of the monitors as a potential contributor to [infection] transmission, and that's why you're seeing this standard now being enforced." 

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2 comments on "Hospital Glucose Monitors Overlooked as Infection Source"


K (8/16/2012 at 3:28 PM)
So is the stopping point glucometers as a source of infection??? There are numerous reusable medical equipment that can serve as a host, reservoir and transferal point for infectious organisms, e.g. thermometers (placed in the mouths of patients during morning rounds with only a thin plastic covering)and blood pressure cuffs (used on patients with MRSA and other infections bacteria that may be present on the skin). Infection control measures is intrinsic to providing quality patient care. However, the problem is the associated and oft unaccounted for factors that prevent healthcare workers from meeting the standards of quality care with each patient, every time, such as turn-around times for clinical and diagnostic testing, number of assigned patients to nurse ratio and medical personnel staffing shortages - retention and attrition. There are no easy solutions but any strides to ensure the health and safety of patients, while receiving medical care, should be at the forefront of state and federal regulations and be viewed from a broad spectrum vantage as to why such incidents and exposures occur well before outbreaks arise!

Sue (8/14/2012 at 12:02 PM)
I am a nurse and was a patient in the hospital for 8 days last year. As a type 1 diabetic my blood sugar was taken multiple times during the day. The nurses wore gloves when handling the meter that was not cleaned before or after use, but they placed it on my bedside table and also layed it in my bed if the table was not nearby. They touched my skin with their gloves and took my blood stopping the bleeding with a porous alcohol or gauze pad. I mentioned that where I worked it was rewquired to clean the meter after each use. but it did not change their prctices, they saw nothing wrong with it.