Reusing Vials Put Patients In Jeopardy
Many hospital patients are contracting severe life-threatening infections that are easily preventable by following basic safety precautions, according to a new report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Researchers found that at two outpatient clinics Delaware and Arizona, at least 10 patients were hospitalized with Staphylococcus aureus or methicillin-resistant S. aureus infections (MRSA) after the clinics reused single-use vials with multiple patients.
"Medications labeled as 'single dose' or 'single use' typically are preservative-free and should be dedicated for single-patient use to protect patients from infection risks," the researchers wrote.
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At one Arizona clinic, staffers diluted a vial of contrast agent, used for X-rays. They injected 10 patients from this one single-use vial -- three of whom were infected with MRSA at the time. All 10 had to be hospitalized with meningitis, blood clots or abscesses.
"The fourth recipient of diluted contrast from the afternoon vial was found deceased at home, six days after treatment at the clinic. The cause of death was reported as multiple-drug overdose; however, invasive MRSA infection could not be ruled out," the researchers wrote.
In Delaware, seven patients became sick after getting injections from the same vial.
"When a national drug shortage disrupted the supply of 10 mL single dose vials, office staff members began using 30 mL single dose vials of bupivacaine for multiple patients," the CDC wrote.
The CDC tested the patients and found that they were all infected with the same strain of MRSA. In addition, two workers at the clinic were colonized with the strain -- they had it in their nose and skin but were not infected.
"This report reminds health-care providers of the serious consequences of multipatient use of single-dose vials that can occur even when health care workers believe they are being careful," according to the report.
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