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Hospital Glucose Monitors Overlooked as Infection Source

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, August 14, 2012

How each glucometer should be cleaned and with what type of cleaning material depends on the type of device. Manufacturers are now required by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to include specific cleaning instructions with the meters' packaging.

No Exeter Hospital patients are known to have been infected through unsanitary use of glucose monitors, New Hampshire state epidemiologist Sharon Alroy-Preis says. And no investigation or patient lookback is planned.

"I'm not sure how it would be possible to look back and check, we don't know what we would be looking for," she explains. 

Even if patients were infected, they may not show symptoms.

She says, however, that the state will be on the lookout for patients who show up with otherwise unexplained viral or bacterial infections that aren't linked to Exeter Hospital's catheterization lab.

For Perz, the entire experience at Exeter Hospital relays an important lesson.

"The narcotics tampering that's alleged is a great example of a risk that previously was largely overlooked. And that's very concerning. But at the same time, I would say that the risks around unsafe diabetes care in healthcare settings, specifically around blood glucose monitoring and administration, have also been overlooked."

 


Cheryl Clark is senior quality editor and California correspondent for HealthLeaders Media. She is a member of the Association of Health Care Journalists.
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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.