CDC: Improper injections linked to Staph infections

Eleven cases, including ten infected and one now deceased patient, had inva­sive Staphylococcus aureus bacteria after receiving injections at health clinics in Arizona and Delaware, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Friday. The CDC found that these staph infections, which occurred since January 2012, were a result of improper injection practices; patients were then hospitalized.

Although no syringes were reused similar to recent cases of contaminated needles causing hepatitis C, both health clinics divided medication intended for a single patient and administered doses to multiple patients, according to NPR. Because single-use vials frequently exceed the drug dosage for a single patient, staff often reuse the remaining medication to avoid wasting the drug, particularly in the face of a national shortage of single-dose vial medications.

Despite medical workers' attempts to save money and conserve medicine, single-dose vials are not equipped with preservatives to prevent the spread of infection, according to the CDC. The reuse of a single-dose vial drastically increases a patient's risk of contracting blood borne pathogens, HealthLeaders Media reported.

Health workers who use single-dose vials for multiple patients are significantly breaching basic injection practices, according to HealthLeaders Media. The CDC hopes to raise awareness about proper injection protocol to avoid further cases of injection-related infection and urges clinics to deal with vial shortages by dividing doses in pharmacies, not in healtcare facilities, reported NPR.  

The CDC is insisting that the priority be put on the safety of the patients rather than cost concerns. "Medications come in very large vials, but they're often only approved for use in one person," CDC spokeswoman Rosa Herrera said. "Healthcare providers see that as waste. There's a desire to use what you've paid for. And they don't understand that they're putting their patients at risk." 

To learn more:
- read the CDC report (.pdf)
- here's the NPR Health blog post
- check out the article