Hospital infections are creeping their way into clinics

By: November 4th, 2013 Email This Post Print This Post

I just got off the phone with an epidemiologist with the the CDC, and they are warning that some of the nasty infections and Superbugs once seen only in hospitals are finding their way into medical clinics. With more surgeries and outpatient procedures being performed in these ambulatory clinics, infections such as MRSA and Hepatitis C are becoming more prevalent, they say.

The causes? Well, many privately-owned clinics don’t have the oversight from state and federal regulators, and therefore aren’t being watched as closely. Also, smaller clinics generally don’t have the infection control and know-how that some of the bigger hospitals do.

What’s still alarming is that the CDC says that up to about 10 percent of these providers are still clueless on basic infection control practices, and that inspectors have seen some of them performing such basic no-nos as re-using syringes and double dipping in vials of medications.

I’d like to hear your thoughts on this, and what you are seeing in your own clinics.


I worked at a clinic where our Nursing Supervisor didn’t know the difference between cleaning and disinfection. Lack of knowledge puts patients at risk. There is not enough state oversight to protect patients in these areas.

There are hundreds of clinics and physician office practices still using the old rubber port IV sets (cheap) forcing nurses to continue using needle and tape for Piggybacking infusions, and needles for IVP.

Pressure needs to be put on the tubing companies to stop selling these older sets, making available only sets with NFVs. One manufacturer, Hospira, made this change proactively several years ago, selling only sets that comply with Bloodborne Pathogen Law. They are the only one that I know of .

By John Palmer on November 5th, 2013 at 1:09 pm

Thank you for your comments! I was wondering if either of you would be willing to let me use your comments in a story I am working on. Please send me an email at jpalmer@hcpro and we can talk further. Thanks!


I can see how this happens. Lack of oversight and education. There is no one assigned specfically to infection control measures as it falls under ineffective annual training that is lead by a generic video or a nurse manager/office manager already wearing multiple hats. In most outpatient clinics, there are contracted janitorial services who come afer hours to empty the trash and sweep the floors, they are not there for disinfection of surface areas. We know to disinfect after invasive procedures but what about cross contamination to work stations and non-clinical areas? C-diff spores can live on environmental surfaces for up to/if not longer than 5 months and patients can continue to shed even after diarrhea has stopped – what about those door handles and light switches? In our clinic, infection control is starting to fall under the safety team as we are giving staff specific instructions about disinfecting their work areas and specific ways to minimize cross contamination. In 2 recent examples – MRSA and C-diff, I spent hours researching containment measures in the outpatient clinics. There was not a lot available as everything was heavily focused on hospital settings. Patients have the potential to go straight to our clinics after being discharged from the hospital and by the time the front office staff, lab staff, medical assistants and nurses realize why the patient is there – the patient has already made their way through the waiting room, lab, MA station and are roomed in an exam room.

By John Palmer on November 6th, 2013 at 10:48 am

Gloria, I am hearing the same thing. Not only are cleaning services themselves not using the right cleaning solution, but I am hearing about clinic staff who are removing blades from scalpels using only a paper towel, and wiping down endoscopes using only a bleach towelette. It seriously is disturbing.

This is an interesting post! It is shocking how careful health institutions need to be. You should read a on why this happens and what solutions can be done.

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