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3 Myths About Safe Injection Practices

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, May 2, 2011

Myths about how to safely inject medications are pervasive among healthcare providers and threaten patient safety, Joseph Perz, the leader of the Centers for Disease Control's Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion said last week in a campaign to educate providers.

In an incident that came to light just two weeks ago, children in Colorado were exposed to reused syringes when receiving flu vaccinations in an outpatient pediatric clinic. Dozens of families received letters telling them that their child should be tested for bloodborne viruses such as Hepatitis C and HIV, Perz said. "It's completely unnecessary. Safe injection practices are something that we should all be able to take for granted, and the healthcare system should be able to guarantee."

Perz made his comments during a briefing for providers with officials from Children's Hospital in Denver, the Safe Injection Practices Coalition, the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology, and Premier Healthcare Alliance.

His remarks came on the heels of the release of a Premier survey conducted in May and June last year, indicating that of 5,446 provider respondents, the following engage in unsafe injection practices:

  • 6% sometimes or always use single-dose/single-use vials for more than one patient
  • 9% sometimes or always reuse a syringe but change the needle for a second patient
  • 15.1% reuse a syringe to enter a multidose vial
  • 6.5% save that vial for use on another patient.

Perz said that in the last 10 years, studies have identified 33 outbreaks of infectious diseases such as Hepatitis C, and the need to notify more than 125 families who may have been harmed.

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