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Hospital Glucose Monitors Overlooked as Infection Source

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, August 14, 2012

The provider, however, may have a microscopic quantity of the prior patient's blood on his or her glove, and inadvertently transfers the pathogen to the exterior of the glucometer.

The blood test strip is discarded in a receptacle for hazardous materials.  The healthcare worker discards his or her used gloves and puts on a new pair for the next patient.

The same or another health provider touches the glucometer, transferring the blood particles onto the fresh pair of gloves or skin, and then carries that infection to the next patient.

Perz says that most of the evidence of glucose monitoring causing healthcare-associated infections comes from long-term care settings. "Most of these outbreaks involved re-use of finger stick devices, but there were several outbreaks...where we did not find evidence of a fingerstick device being reused, and we hypothesized that the glucometer may have been a factor."

Perhaps even more important, when investigators see such errors, "we often see issues related to hand hygiene or glove use," or other recommended prevention activities that aren't being done, he says.

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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.