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In response to continued reports of infection control flaws in outpatient healthcare clinics that have put thousands of patients at risk for serious infections, the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC) today announced its strong support for adherence to safe injection practices in clinical settings throughout the U.S. The recommendations are published in the APIC position paper, “Safe Injection, Infusion and Medication Vial Practices in Healthcare.” This position paper was endorsed by the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA).
More than 35 outbreaks of viral hepatitis have occurred in the U.S. in the past 10 years due to unsafe injection practices including syringe re-use between patients, contamination of medication vials or intravenous bags and inappropriate sharing of blood sugar testing equipment. One of the largest outbreaks occurred in Nevada in 2008 in which 63,000 people were notified of their possible risk of hepatitis C due to re-use of syringes and sharing of single-use medication vials at a Las Vegas endoscopy center.
“APIC recognizes these outbreaks as unacceptable,” said Susan Dolan, RN, MS, CIC, lead author of the position paper and epidemiologist at The Children’s Hospital in Aurora, Colo. “There is no excuse for failure to follow basic infection prevention practices when preparing and administering medications, giving injections and obtaining blood samples.”
The APIC position paper comes on the heels of increased government attention to infection prevention in outpatient clinics. In February, the Government Accountability Office released a report highlighting the need for nationwide data on the risk of healthcare-associated infections in ambulatory surgery centers, and in April the Department of Health and Human Services announced that they are using $10 million from the economic stimulus law to strengthen inspections of outpatient facilities.
“The ongoing reports of hepatitis B and C transmission demonstrate that much more is needed to assure that preventive practices are being scrupulously followed in all healthcare settings,” said Dolan. “Administrators of medical facilities must support safe injection practices and provide resources to ensure employees have the training and equipment to safely implement these procedures. Safe injection, infusion and medication vial practices must be the absolute standard of care in every clinical setting.”