GAO warns of unsafe injections

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services should be doing more to address unsafe injection practices, the Government Accountability Office said in a report released to the public Friday. GAO noted that although CMS took steps to expand oversight of unsafe injection practices in ambulatory care settings since 2009 by requiring surveyors to use an Infection Control Surveyor Worksheet for documentation, CMS officials said the agency stopped collecting data from surveyor worksheets after fiscal year 2011 because of burdens to surveyors. GAO suggested that the absence of comprehensive data underestimates outbreaks of blood-borne pathogens (hepatitis B and C) linked to a specific healthcare facility or clinician that uses unsafe injection practices.

The GAO report comes in the wake of a CMS investigation of a traveling medical lab technician, known as the "serial infector," who allegedly caused a hepatitis C outbreak through injections across multiple hospitals and states. The first reported cases were at New Hampshire's Exeter Hospital. Summary