The dangers of unsafe injection practices


New York residents who undergo medical treatment that involves regular injections may be alarmed to hear about how easily infections can be spread by unsafe injection practices and how many people these medical errors can affect. A 2008 outbreak of hepatitis C in Las Vegas was traced to a contaminated syringe, and in 2001, a nurse reused syringes for 16 months spreading the disease to 99 people.

A syringe can spread an infection even if the needle is changed, and it can easily contaminate saline or heparin flush solutions in an IV bag. The patients in the 2001 case were infected by saline that contained the hepatitis C virus while receiving injections as part of their chemotherapy treatment. The Centers for Disease Control, or CDC, found the events ‘dumbfounding and unsettling,” but the results of a 2011 study by the Institute for Safe Medication Practices indicate that hospitals are not doing enough to make sure injections are safe.

The study discovered that two percent of hospitals had no procedure in place to prevent the use of multi-dose vials and 24 percent had only partially implemented such a procedure. A 2010 survey of 5,000 health care workers by the American Journal of Infection Control found that many medical professionals often do not follow safe practices, and they often feel that changing the needle on a syringe was enough to ensure safety.

Doctors and hospitals are expected to take reasonable precautions when they treat patients, and having rules in place to prevent syringes being reused would seem to be a simple step for them to take. However, research suggests that this is not happening often enough. An attorney experienced in medical negligence and malpractice cases could be familiar with these kinds of errors, and they may be able to help victims of them receive compensation.

Source: Anesthesiology News, “Unsafe Injection Practices Remain All Too Common“, David Wild, July 23, 2013

Posted in Doctor Errors | Tagged |