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The Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC) has issued a statement from Kathy Warye, CEO of APIC, in conjunction with an article being published in the January issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine about outbreaks of hepatitis B and C in outpatient clinics nationwide. The outbreaks are linked to unsafe injection practices. In the statement Warye addresses the need for increased infection prevention measures in outpatient settings and also APIC’s work with HONOReform, a national coalition formed to bring a halt to unsafe needle practices in outpatient centers. APIC is providing educational resources and expertise to this effort spearheaded by a hepatitis C survivor. As this year progresses, APIC will play an increasingly active role in monitoring legislation and educating the profession about safe injection practices.
Warye’s statement is as follows: “A review article appearing in this month’s issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine identified 33 outbreaks of hepatitis B or C virus infection in U.S. outpatient healthcare settings during the past 10 years caused by unsafe injection practices. This comes on the heels of a highly publicized outbreak in Nevada in which 40,000 people were notified of their possible risk of hepatitis C due to improper use of syringes at a Las Vegas endoscopy clinic. Unsafe injection practices have also been cited at free-standing centers in Nebraska, New York, Michigan and North Carolina, needlessly exposing hundreds of thousands of patients to life-threatening infections.”
Warye continues, “As the nation’s largest infection prevention organization, APIC is very concerned by the mounting number of cases in which clinicians in ambulatory care settings failed to follow safe injection practices, causing outbreaks of serious infections and endangering the lives of patients. These outbreaks were preventable and should never have occurred. Consumers seek healthcare services to get better and should not be exposed to unnecessary risk. To raise awareness of the risks and ensure that clinicians understand the basics of safe injection practice, APIC is participating in HONOReform, a national coalition formed to bring a halt to unsafe needle practices in outpatient centers. HONOReform was founded by Evelyn McNight, a breast cancer survivor who received chemotherapy at a Freemont, Neb. ambulatory care clinic and was infected with hepatitis C because the clinic reused syringes. APIC is providing educational resources and expertise. With an increasing amount of care being delivered in outpatient settings, more patients will be put at risk unless clinicians are adequately educated and consistently adhere to infection prevention measures. Clinics should also be concerned about new and more virulent pathogens, such as MRSA, which can be transmitted in outpatient settings and take a hard look at how they are addressing infection prevention overall.”
Warye adds further, “APIC offers a host of resources including Webinars, newsletters and a Guide to Infection Control in Ambulatory Care. APIC’s evidence-based elimination guides translate CDC guidelines into practice.”