Unsafe Injections Put Patients at Risk of Serious Illness

Dr. Tom McKnightI’ve seen first-hand the devastation caused when single-use items and medications are reused on multiple patients. My wife, Evelyn, was one of 99 Nebraskans infected with hepatitis C in 2000 while receiving treatment for cancer. Syringes were reused, and a community saline bag was reused. Six patient deaths are attributed to the infection of viral hepatitis. And this is not the only incident. There have been over 40 documented outbreaks in the U.S. over the last 12 years.

I’ve been a physician for over 35 years. I’m calling on all healthcare workers to always do the right thing when giving injections to patients.

While Evelyn struggled through chemotherapy and long-lasting treatment to rid her body of hepatitis C – which did not work, at first – we are very fortunate she is doing okay today. It has been our privilege to form Hepatitis Outbreaks’ National Organization for Reform Foundation. Our goal is to safeguard the medical injection process – to prevent outbreaks of bloodborne pathogens in the United States.

HONOReform is a proud partner of the Safe Injection Practices Coalition, led by CDC and the CDC Foundation. The Coalition’s excellent Healthcare Provider Toolkit is the perfect way, in a busy practice like ours, to take time out to emphasize the absolute importance of injection safety – and of following CDC guidelines. I encourage all healthcare providers to share this essential “meeting-in-a-box” with colleagues and coworkers.

What I appreciate most about the Healthcare Provider Toolkit is the directness in which the content is delivered. From our own investigations of breakdowns throughout the country in the medical injection process – and from studies we review – we know there are lapses in giving safe injections in actual practice. The Healthcare Provider Toolkit allows everyone on the staff to review and process together the right way to give an injection to a patient. Plus, the toolkit has an audio feature.

I plan to take 10 minutes to show the Healthcare Provider Toolkit to my colleagues and staff. I encourage all healthcare workers to do the same. We must never jeopardize the safety of our patient by short-cutting the medical injection process.

Dr. Thomas McKnight is a family physician practicing in Fremont, Nebraska. In addition to supporting his wife Evelyn through her ordeal with the outbreak, Tom was instrumental in uncovering the Nebraska Hepatitis C Outbreak in 2002, when he diagnosed four cancer patients with hepatitis C through his family practice. A co-founder of HONOReform, Tom leads the organization's efforts to properly inform, educate and train health care providers in fundamental injection safety practices.

Safe Injection - Provider Toolkit

View Healthcare Provider Toolkit

The healthcare provider toolkit includes a narrated PowerPoint, an injection safety checklist, posters, brochures, and a misperceptions flyer.

Visit Website: OneandOnlyCampaign.org

The One & Only Campaign is a public health campaign, led by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Safe Injection Practices Coalition (SIPC), to raise awareness among patients and healthcare providers about safe injection practices. 

The CDC Foundation is a founding partner and serves as the coordinating organization of SIPC.

Kristin Sullivan

On behalf of the North Carolina Division of Public Health, a partner in the Safe Injection Practices Coalition, we would like to thank Dr. McKnight for his comments to providers and his efforts to protect patients. Unfortunately, outbreaks of hepatitis have been detected in our state and many others due to reuse of syringes, contamination of multi-dose vials, and the inappropriate sharing of diabetes care equipment. We urge providers to make use of the materials in the healthcare provider toolkit to help prevent these outbreaks from happening in the future.

Jancey Terry

I must admit I am both shocked and amazed that with all we have done to progress medical treatment that facilities and people are still doing this.  My heart goes out to those infected.  As a nurse of 8 years, I have had the privilege to work in hospital, clinic, nursing home and public health and have never seen needles or single use supplies being utilized on more than one patient. I hope this message makes it to those who truly need it.

Brooke DiPetrillo

Through my work with the Safe Injection Practices Coalition as a CDC Foundation program officer, I learn about the consequences of unsafe injection practices every day.  The One & Only Campaign is committed to ending unsafe injection practices in healthcare settings by educating providers and patients about injection safety and ensuring a  mutual sense of responsibility.  The Campaign provides numerous resources at no cost including an educational video, posters, and brochures.  Learn more at www.oneandonlycampaign.org

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