Dangerous Injection Practices Still a Threat

Cheryl Clark, June 5, 2012

Dangerous needle/syringe injection practices by healthcare workers ? such as the reuse of syringes to withdraw medication from a container that was used for other patients ? have resulted in 130,000 patients being notified they were at risk of infection with viruses or bacteria over the last decade, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Additionally, "a survey of healthcare providers who prepared and/or administered parenteral medications (revealed that) nearly 1% have reused a syringe directly from one patient to another. Such dangerous practice may stem from the misconception that changing only the needle is sufficient to prevent disease transmission," the study said.

These events, the authors found, "may represent a small fraction of a larger problem."  The article is published in last week's journal Medical Care.

Alice Guh, MD, medical officer in the CDC's Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion, says CDC and state health officials the agency worked with to gather the data, don't have a good idea how extensive unsafe injection practices are, nor how many patients were infected because of them.  There is no formal system for tracking patient notification events, although CDC has kept records for those it helped to investigate.


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