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This award-winning blog supplements the articles in Hospital Infection Control & Prevention.

The needle and the damage done: Ignorance trumps greed as hepatitis outbreaks continue

Once thought of as shocking outliers, hepatitis outbreaks in ambulatory care settings related to failure of basic needle safety have become the numbing new normal. A recurrent theme in the outbreaks has been patient-to-patient transmission due to failure of health care personnel to adhere to fundamental principles of infection control and aseptic technique (e.g., reuse of syringes, single-dose vials or lancing devices).

The general consensus is that the outbreaks reflect less greed and evil than simple ignorance, with basic needle safety practice with syringes and vials repeatedly violated. And don’t forget, for every cluster detected, many more infections acquired in health care are being missed due to inadequate surveillance systems and lack of public health resources to investigate individual cases of HBV and HCV.

The CDC and the Safe Injection Practices Coalition have released a safe injection toolkit geared specifically for busy medical practices. This free toolkit features a Power Point presentation with recorded audio, convenient for use during staff meetings, in-services, and other educational seminars. Other pieces include a no-cost Medscape CME activity, a safe injection practices training video, and a number of eye-catching posters to remind staff about the basics of injection safety.

The toolkit also gives providers access to all of the education and training materials of the SIPC’s One & Only Campaign. All of the materials come with suggested uses. For example, the injection safety checklist is designed to help with routine reviews of your clinical team’s practices, to ensure that your patients always receive safe care. Additionally, all staff involved in preparing or giving injections could be required to view the Medscape CME or safe injection practices video annually. With this information, all healthcare providers can refresh their injection safety knowledge and contribute to keeping their patients safe from unnecessary harm.

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