Safe injection practices for improving safety to be discussed at the Joint Commission Infection Control Conference

Premier healthcare alliance’s Gina Pugliese, vice president of Premier’s Safety Institute, will share insights on safe injection practices to improve patient and worker safety at the Joint Commission Infection Control Conference on August 21 in Crystal City, Va.

Pugliese will discuss the risks of patient-to-patient transmission of hepatitis B virus (HBV) and hepatitis C virus (HCV) infections from unsafe injection practices, such as reuse of syringes and needles on more than one patient. There have been more than 33 outbreaks of HBV and HCV in the past 10 years in nonacute healthcare settings from improper needle and syringe use and poor infection control practices, resulting in nearly 500 patients becoming infected.

Occupational needlestick injuries also pose risks of HBV and HCV infection to healthcare workers, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that more than 800,000 needlestick injuries occur annually in the United States from needles and other sharps. The use of safety devices with engineered sharps injury protection can eliminate 90 percent of occupational needlestick injuries; however, they have not been universally adopted in all settings where exposures may occur.

Patient-to-patient transmission of HBV, HCV and other pathogens can also be prevented by adherence to standard infection control precautions and safe injection practices, such as never reusing any syringes, needles, cannulas, lancets, insulin pens and medication vials labeled as single use. Safe injection practices also include never administering medications from a syringe to multiple patients, even if the needle or cannula on the syringe is changed.

Premier, in collaboration with the CDC, offers healthcare administrators and staff a comprehensive workbook on CD-ROM for sharps injury prevention, and others tools and guidelines on injection safety.

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