TJC Advises on Infections Linked to Misuse of Vials

Lena J. Weiner, for HealthLeaders Media , June 20, 2014

A recent survey of 5,446 healthcare practitioners found that:

  • 6% admitted to sometimes or always using single-use vials on multiple patients.
  • 15% admitted to reusing syringes to re-enter a multiple-use vial numerous times for the same patient.
  • 6.5% of those who admitted reusing syringes admitted to saving multiple-use vials for use on other patients.
  • Half of the 51 healthcare professionals who reported reusing syringes with multiple-use vials in multiple patients were in hospital settings.

Another cause of infections linked to improper administration of injectable medications is the nurse, physician, or technician who is opioid-addicted.

10 Ways to Halt Drug Diversion by Healthcare Workers

Sometimes the urge to re-use vials can be prompted by medication and supply shortages and high costs. But any savings achieved by reusing these products would be outweighed by other costs if even one patient develops an adverse clinical reaction to them, The Joint Commission maintains.

Of the known victims of these preventable outbreaks, many required prolonged, sometimes life-long, follow-up care. Some died. The costs of caring for these patients and containing an outbreak can be crippling to an organization. Furthermore, providers found to have caused harm can expect to face significant legal ramifications and disciplinary action.

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