A heartfelt thank you to some very hard working epidemiologists
A huge thank you to the wonderful epidemiologists at both the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), Division of Disease Control and at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Viral Hepatitis Division for their major article published this month in the American Journal of Infection Control. Their article, “Outbreak of hepatitis C virus infection associated with narcotics diversion by an hepatitis C virus-infected surgical technician,” outlines the happenings surrounding the Hepatitis C outbreak in Colorado in 2009. Their in-depth study of this situation brilliantly highlights the need for better health surveillance in identifying such outbreaks and the diversion which causes them.
In part two, our colleague, the “nurse from St. Louis,” shares “factors” that contribute to the problem of improper or lacking disinfection of glucometers–and “recommended actions” and a “conclusion.” HONOReform calls on our many partners and colleagues to make glucometer safety a priority in your institutions; and we remind patients to always ask questions…such as, Was this glucometer just disinfected?
Factors Contributing to the Problem of Improper Cleaning of Meters
After researching this issue, it is apparent that glucometers and other blood testing meters were approved by the FDA for individual home use. Cleaning these meters with alcohol would have been appropriate when used for one individual only at home. However, when these meters are used on multiple people, then disinfecting with agents that kill blood borne pathogens, after each use, is the only safe and appropriate option. See this article for more information. It appears that the manufacturers and sales representatives marketed these devices that were approved by the FDA as being safe and effective for individual home use as being appropriate to use at health fairs and mass health screenings as well.
Because some of the manufacturers and sales representatives contributed to this problem, we are asking them to help rectify these unsafe practices, i.e., of improper use and cleaning/disinfecting of point-of-care blood testing meters, as soon as possible. We believe that these companies should immediately update their websites and printed material and contact all current, past and potential customers via email, regular mail, phone calls and in-person visits. Very specifically they need to inform everyone that any type of point-of-care blood testing equipment needs to be cleaned and disinfected after each use if used for multiple people. Of course, the health care worker must follow all other standard infection control procedures. Furthermore, should the sales representatives find any used penlets (a lancet device that can be used on multiple patients but should not be) in a healthcare setting they should confiscate those devices.
Obviously, we all must remain vigilant regarding proper infection control measures, especially those related to blood borne pathogens. It is imperative that we communicate concerns in order to educate and motivate everyone to put patient safety first. The lives and health of our patients depend on us to practice safely.
We are grateful to the “nurse from St. Louis” for sharing part one of a two-part blog for stressing the absolute importance of always cleaning the glucometer between patients. This week, from her point of view, she introduces the “scope of the problem” and shares some of the important “facts.”
Introduction/ Scope of the Problem
Recently there have been several documented breaches in infection control procedures, resulting in potential exposure to blood borne pathogens in a variety of health care settings throughout the United States. We have already discussed the OSHA reprimand and fine levied upon SSM Health Care in St. Louis, Missouri for not properly disinfecting point-of-care blood testing meters after each patient. In addition, the July 2014 issue of the American Journal of Nursing has an article titled “Infection Prevention Practices in Ambulatory Surgery Centers” which included reports of “blood glucometers not being cleaned between patients” at health care centers in Pennsylvania. Furthermore, Complete Health Care for Women in Ohio was reprimanded by OSHA for violations related to not protecting staff and patients from blood borne pathogens. If these types of breaches occur at large, well-regarded, quality award winning healthcare systems, then they can happen anywhere. Read more
Welcome back to the HONOReform blog, aka “Survivor Stories,” for our second full year of publication. We thank everyone who has had a role in making our blog a growing success—contributors and readers and everyone who has suggested to friends that they should check out our blog and pass it on to others.
And we encourage you to please continue to support our efforts.
Here at HONOReform, community-building is a key to emphasizing safe injection practices and doing all we can to educate the public and reeducate providers on the absolute necessity of injection safety.