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Hospital Glucose Monitors Overlooked as Infection Source

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, August 14, 2012

Not properly cleaning a glucometer isn't the biggest infection control procedural lapse in a hospital setting, Perz explains. Far worse is reuse of fingerstick devices used to draw the blood and put it on a test strip on more than one patient.

Also bad practice is when insulin pens are used on more than one patient. "The greatest risk involves devices that go from patient to patient, and make direct contact with the patient," Perz explains.

But the glucometer can also be a source of infection among patients through healthcare workers, or even gloves or articles of clothing that imperceptibly touch the device.

Here's how that can happen. The healthcare worker draws the blood from the patient's finger, puts it on a test strip and then inserts it into a nearby glucometer, where a few minutes later the monitor calculates a glucose level. 

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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.