Mercy! Time to consider risk of MRSA from unsafe injections

By: July 17th, 2012 Email This Post Print This Post

Move over hepatitis B, C, and HIV, and make room for MRSA infections as a consequence of unsafe injection practices.

A July 16 post on the CDC Safe Healthcare blog by Dr. Michael Bell, associate director for infection control at the Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion, discusses two recent outbreaks in Arizona and Delaware where the use of medication from single-dose/single-use vials for multiple patients resulted in “staph/MRSA infections in at least 10 patients receiving injections for pain relief.”

Bell writes: “These breaches resulted in life-threatening —yet completely preventable – infections in a number of patients receiving injections for pain relief.  How does this happen in today’s advanced medical settings?”

Infections resulting in hospitalizations from the unsafe practices included, “mediastinitis, bacterial meningitis, epidural abscess, septic arthritis, bursitis, and sepsis – all severe infections caused by either Staphylococcus aureus (Staph) or its drug-resistant form MRSA,” according to Bell.

The CDC report says that the outpatient clinics where the outbreaks occurred may have deviated from recommended practices because of difficulty “in obtaining appropriate vial sizes, either because of a national drug shortage or because the vial size needed by health-care providers was not manufacture.”

This does not excuse unsafe practices, says Bell, and recommends having a pharmacy that adheres United States Pharmacopeia General Chapter <797> standards safely split the doses or that the healthcare provider switch to “using appropriate alternate medications in times of shortage.”


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