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News From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
July 17, 2013

Injectable Medicine Safety Is a Growing US Health Concern

JAMA. 2013;310(3):251. doi:10.1001/jama.2013.8148

Unsafe medical injections, usually considered a health issue mainly in low- and middle-income countries, have caused dozens of US outbreaks of viral and bacterial infections since 2001.

Most infections transmitted via injections occur because syringes are reused or medication is mishandled, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported. In a 2008 hepatitis C virus (HCV) outbreak at a Nevada ambulatory surgical center, health workers had used a new, clean needle and syringe to administer the sedative propofol to an HCV-infected patient. Backflow contaminated the syringe, but health workers reused it with a new needle to draw medication for other patients. The tainted syringe contaminated a single-use medication vial that was used for several patients. The clinic routinely gave injections this way, setting the stage for an HCV outbreak.