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Hospital Glucose Monitors Overlooked as Infection Source

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, August 14, 2012

That's what happened at Exeter last month. A hepatitis outbreak infecting at least 31 patients this spring was linked to one infected healthcare provider accused of diverting drugs and allowing syringes he allegedly injected in himself to be reused on patients in the hospital's cardiac catheterization lab.

When state officials on behalf of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services last month conducted their complaint inves tigation, they discovered that in addition to poor narcotic drug control, the hospital did not have a policy "for the cleaning of glucometers between patient use," according to the report.

To date, no Exeter Hospital patients are known to have been infected through unsanitary use of glucose monitors.

The report found, however, that personnel "on five nursing units, 3 East, 4 West, ICU, emergency dept. and the PCU (progressive care unit) identified no consistent methodology for the cleaning of glucometers after each patient use, some units reported cleaning only after use in precaution rooms, and one unit demonstrated a sample document indicating that the cleanings were done in the morning and at night," the report said.

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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.