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Failure to observe safe injection protocol is still common medical malpractice that can have serious or deadly consequences

One-and-Only-campaignSince 2001 more than 150,000 patients in the US have been notified by their healthcare providers that they might have been potentially exposed to bloodborne pathogens  such as hepatitis B virus (HBV), hepatitis C virus (HCV), and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) after a health provider committed medical malpractice by failing to observe standard injection safety protocols.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is worried that too many healthcare providers are failing to observe what is considered basic infection control when injecting patients. A recent “One and Only” campaign seeks to raise awareness among healthcare providers and patients about safe injection practices.

These practices might seem obvious but incidents happen quite commonly and the consequences can be deadly.

If you are a patient requiring injection(s) keep an eye on what your healthcare provider is doing and make sure that he or she doesn’t:

  • use the same syringe multiple time
  • “double dip” into a multiple dose vial already used by another patient
  • share your intravenous saline bag with other patients
  • divert your pain medicine to self inject and then substitute with another liquid to cover the diversion
  • use the same syringe or pen for multiple patients and just change the needle
  • leave multiple dose vials in the treatment area instead of keeping them in storage

If you are a healthcare provider, make sure to develop a solid program to prevent and control infections, review your safety policies on a regular basis with your staff, train your staff regularly on injection safety, use the CDC educational material and put posters on the walls to remind staff to follow safe injection procedures, provide brochures to patients so they can raise their concerns if they see a provider who doesn’t follow safety protocols.

For more info on safe injection practice read this recent blog by Ernest Clement, MSN, RN, CIC, who is an infection preventionist with the New York State Department of Health’s Bureau of Healthcare Associated Infections