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Dirty Syringes Are Common- What You Need To Know to Protect Yourself

Posted by Jane Akre
Thursday, February 28, 2008 11:54 AM EST
Category: On The Road, Major Medical, Protecting Your Family, In The Workplace
Tags: FDA and Prescription Drugs, Medical Devices, Hepatitis C, Infection Control, Toxic Substances

Consumers need to be aware of the reuse of syringe and needles which can pass on infection.


The warnings going out to patients who visited an outpatient center and may have been infected with hepatitis C highlight the need for patients to understand safe infection control procedures. 

Don't be afraid to insist that medications come from a single unopened vial-one used just for you. Or if a multi-dose vial is used, make sure no other patient uses it.

A multi-dose vial should always have medication withdrawn with a clean syringe AND needle. That is not what happened at the Las Vegas clinic. Here is how the infection happened:    

  • A clean syringe is used to draw sedative from a vial.
  • It is then given to a patient previously infected with the hepatitis C virus (HCV). Backflow into the syringe contaminates it with HCV.
  • The needle is replaced but the syringe is reused to draw additional sedative from the same vial for the same patient contaminating the vial with HCV.
  • A clean needle and syringe are used for a second patient but the  contaminated vial is reused. Subsequent patients are at risk for infection.


The CDC reports that healthcare providers or anyone administering injections should never reuse a needle or syringe either from one patient to another or to withdraw medicine from a vial.   Both needle and syringe are to be thrown away once they have been used.  It is not safe just to change the needle and reuse the syringe.

Whenever possible, CDC recommends that single-use vials be used. #


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