Join me to get the message out: Reuse of syringes must stop TODAY!

July 14, 2014

Evelyn McKnight and Lauren Lollini

Rich Caizza is a safety syringe engineer and an HONOReform board member living in New Jersey

Rich Caizza is a safety syringe engineer and an HONOReform board member living in New Jersey

Hello, my name is Rich Caizza and I live in New Jersey. I’d like to share with you my personal experience as a patient having to deal with a dentist who had been re-using needles and syringes in his practice. A little background about myself before that day. worked for the one of the largest needle & syringe manufacturers in the world in the role of product design engineer for more than 23 years. I held many positions within that company, largely devoted to developing needles and syringes designed to protect healthcare workers from needle sticks and prevent syringe re-use in the developing markets around the world, where the problem of re-use is well documented and recognized as a major health problem. My position within the company required that I travel around the world to places like China, India, Brazil, Uganda, Mozambique and South Africa, in order to get valuable first-hand experience. While traveling to these places, I met with many healthcare officials and visited many hospitals and clinics in order to understand how and why syringe re-use was happening. As part of my duties, I was responsible for identifying how we could use product design to effectively prevent needles and syringes from being re-used, even if the healthcare worker wanted to re-use the device again.

As a result of these opportunities to observe clinical practices, I designed syringes that would become automatically disabled, permanently preventing the possibility of re-use. The company I worked for currently sells these products in many developing markets around the world.

Now back to the day when I visited the dentist whose office was reusing needles and syringes.

I arrived at the office, and after some time in the waiting room, I was escorted into one of the patient rooms. While walking towards the room, I noticed a small table in the corridor in plain sight. On the table were two disposable syringes and needles out of the sterile packaging. The plungers had been taken out of the barrels and the rubber seals were also removed, placed alongside two uncapped needles.
When I sat down, I asked the dental assistant why the syringes were there.

To my surprise and horror, and I quote what I was told, “I’m air drying them off because we just got done cleaning them to reuse.”

I explained to the assistant that these syringes are strictly intended to be single use devices, that re-using them can cause potential transmission of disease to both her and patients and they should be properly discarded after a single use.
With that I told her to tell the doctor (who was too busy to speak with me) that I’m shocked he permits this in his practice and that it’s dangerous. I immediately walked out of the office to never return.

When I got home, I called the local health department to report the dentist. I was asked to report the incident directly to the State Board of Dentistry, which I promptly did.

About 6 months later, I received a letter from the Board of Dentistry advising me that they completed their investigation regarding my complaint. They concluded that the dentist was not in violation during their inspection and the matter was closed.

This incident was quite disappointing, but it’s motivated me more than ever to educate as many people as I can to the fact that syringe and needle re-use DOES happen here in the United States. As a result, we must all keep our eyes open to make sure such practices don’t continue, not only for our personal safety but for everyone else as well.

Please join me to get the message out: The reuse of needles and syringes puts everyone at risk of contracting deadly diseases and the practice must stop TODAY!

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