Lax Needle Use in Clinics Raises Alarm
February 6, 2009
Next week, CDC, the Safe Injection Practices Coalition, and others will kick off a campaign aimed at getting more health care workers to follow basic injection safety guidelines, as well as educating consumers on how they can protect themselves. The initiative, featuring the slogan "One Needle, One Syringe, Only One Time," will be tested in Nevada before being launched nationwide.
Medical experts are primarily concerned about unsafe injection practices at outpatient clinics, where an increasing number of patients are receiving care. These facilities, which include surgery centers, pain clinics, and dialysis centers, are not as closely regulated as hospitals. Though hospitals are not free from risk, they generally train staff in safe-injection guidelines.
Hepatitis outbreaks in recent years have pointed to lax injection practices at many US clinics. For example, some 60,000 patients of two Las Vegas endoscopy clinics were urged to get tested for HIV and hepatitis last year after staff were found to be reusing syringes and medicine vials; six patients contracted hepatitis C.
Previously, outbreaks were viewed as "isolated and unusual incidents," said Dr. Joseph Perz, a CDC injection-safety expert. "This problem is now squarely in the mainstream, and we have to make sure the basic safe practices are understood by everyone working in health care."
CDC says it is working with regulators and medical groups to emphasize injection safety as part of the accreditation process for non-hospital facilities. While most health care workers are aware of the dangers of reusing needles, other safety guidelines, such as disposing of syringes after each use, are not always followed.
"It isn't that health care professionals have malicious intent or a desire to shortchange the patient, but they just aren't thinking all the steps through and understanding how they are putting the patient at risk," said Evelyn McKnight, founder of the nonprofit educational group Hepatitis Outbreaks National Organization for Reform.
CDC's safe-injection guidelines are available at www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dhqp/injectionSafetyPractices.html.
Wall Street Journal
02.04.2009; Laura Landro
This article was provided by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update. Visit the CDC's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.