What happens in Vegas actually doesn’t stay in Vegas

By: March 18th, 2009 Email This Post Print This Post

When someone mentions Las Vegas, your first thought probably turns to unsafe financial practices rather than unsafe injection practices.

But if you remember, in February 2008, Nevada health officials revealed unsafe injection practices at an outpaitient clinic potentially put thousands at risk for hepatitis C. The city eventually closed two Las Vegas outpatient endoscopy centers for reusing syringes and vaccines and urged 40,000 Las Vegas-area patients to get tested, the largest patient notification in U.S. history. All told, nine people were found to have contracted the virus.

Now, more than a year later, a state health investigation reveals that similar infection control flaws can be found in outpatient clinics statewide. A draft of the report found that 25 of 49 outpatient surgical centers in Nevada experienced related infection control deficiencies. The report noted that improper use of single use items such as syringes accounted for a third of infection control problems in 2008. Sterilization and disinfection accounted for half.

The state’s Bureau of Health Care Quality and Compliance (formally known as Licensure and Certification) is responsible for health inspections of the 1,100 state-licensed nursing homes, ambulatory surgery clinics, group homes and hospitals in Nevada.

Marla McDade Williams, the Bureau’s chief, told the Associated Press that increasing licensing fees could add as many as 11 suveyors to the staff of 34, which would help reinforce regulations.

In recent months a number or organizations, particularly APIC, have attempted to provide some guidance to smaller outpatient facilities. Only a couple months ago APIC CEO Kathy Warye released a statement addressing the need for increased infection control measures in ambulatory care settings. APIC also recently released a tip sheet for patients and providers to reduce the risk of infection before and ambulatory procedure. In November 2008, the CDC released long-awaited guidelines on sterilization.

We’ve written about the issue of safe injection practices previously, recogninzing that smaller facilities sometimes have more difficulty enforcing best practices because of a lack of resources. We’ve even offered some quick tips, and there are a number of free downloadable forms and checklists in the Infection Control section of the Tools page that cover safe injection practices.

hcpro-audio-conference-logosmDid you find this advice helpful? Learn how you can get all your OSHA questions answered by registering for OSHA Healthcare Advisor’s “Q&A Roundtable: Solutions to Your Compliance Challenges” audioconference.


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