Healthcare Provider Information

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Recent investigations undertaken by state and local health departments and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have identified improper use of syringes, needles, and medication vials during routine healthcare procedures, such as administering injections. These practices have resulted in one or more of the following:

  • Transmission of bloodborne viruses, including hepatitis C virus to patients
  • Notification of thousands of patients of possible exposure to bloodborne pathogens and recommendation that they be tested for HCV, HBV, and HIV
  • Referral of providers to licensing boards for disciplinary action
  • Malpractice suits filed by patients

These unfortunate events serve as a reminder of the serious consequences of failure to maintain strict adherence to safe injection practices during patient care. Injection safety and other basic infection control practices are central to patient safety. All healthcare providers are urged to carefully review their infection control practices and the practices of all staff under their supervision. In particular, providers should ensure that staff:

  • Never administer medications from the same syringe to more than one patient, even if the needle is changed
  • Do not enter a vial with a used syringe or needle

Hepatitis C virus, hepatitis B virus, and HIV can be spread from patient to patient when these simple precautions are not followed. Additional protection is offered when medication vials can be dedicated to a single patient. It is important that:

  • Medications packaged as single-use vials never be used for more than one patient
  • Medications packaged as multi-use vials be assigned to a single patient whenever possible
  • Bags or bottles of intravenous solution not be used as a common source of supply for more than one patient
  • Absolute adherence to proper infection control practices be maintained during the preparation and administration of injected medications

CDC Resources: