Safety

Hepatitis infections prompt state-wide inspections

OSHA Healthcare Connection, March 11, 2008

The Nevada Department of Health and Human Services has ordered inspections of all ambulatory surgery centers for unsafe infection control practices, according to a March 7 news release.

Inspections of the 50 centers are in response to an investigation linking the Endoscopy Center of Southern Nevada in Las Vegas to six cases of hepatitis C. As a precaution, the department issued warnings on February 27 to nearly 40,000 patients-the largest public health notification operation in U.S. history-about their potential exposure to not only that disease but to hepatitis B and HIV.

Coincidentally, an editorial appearing it last month's Journal of Hepatology and reported in the March Medical Environment Update, identifies unsafe injections as the common element in virtually all outbreaks in patient-to-patient transmission of hepatitis C in ambulatory settings.

That issue of the Update also included a poster by the CDC: Safe Injection Practices to Prevent Patient-to-Patient Transmission of Bloodborne Pathogens. Suggestions included:

  • Use a sterile, single-use, disposable needle and syringe for each injection
  • Do not administer medications from single-dose vials to multiple patients
  • Never re-enter a vial with a needle or syringe used on one patient if that vial will be used to withdraw medication for another patient
  • Use aseptic technique to avoid contamination of sterile injection equipment and medications

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