According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over 125,000 people in the U.S. have been potentially exposed to HIV and different forms of hepatitis since 1999 due to lapses in infection control practices. Additionally, a 2009 study in the Annals of Internal Medicine noted 33 different outbreaks of viral hepatitis in nonhospital settings over the last decade.
Many of these exposures result from health care providers reusing needles and syringes, which can result in contaminating vials of medication used on other patients. In one incident alone, nearly 50,000 people were at risk of exposure to blood-borne diseases after treatment at a Las Vegas endoscopy center according to the Safe Injection Practices Coalition.
The One and Only Campaign
Prompted by the incident in Las Vegas and other lapses in patient safety, the CDC launched a new campaign to bring awareness to safe injection practices. The “One and Only” campaign focuses on educating health care providers about the proper procedures for giving patients injections and proper disposal methods. The CDC hopes the campaign will also inform and empower the public about acceptable injection practices. The CDC encourages patients to ask health care providers:
- Will there be a new needle, new syringe, and a new vial for the procedure or injection?
- To identify the steps the provider takes to reduce the spread of infections.
- What other steps they will take to keep you safe.
Ultimately, the goal of the campaign is to reduce the number of contamination incidents and the risk of potential infections.
The World Health Organization defines a safe injection as one that does not harm the patient, does not expose the provider to any avoidable risks, and does not result in waste that is dangerous for the community. Needle reuse can result in transmitting diseases to patients, including hepatitis C virus (HCV), hepatitis B virus (HBV), and HIV.
As a result of the Las Vegas incident, Nevada was selected as one of two states to pilot the program, along with New York. Part of the CDC’s program includes providing training materials, to both hospitals and clinics, in coordination with the University of Nevada Las Vegas, the Southern Nevada Health District, and the Southern Nevada Area Health Education Center.