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Drug diversion exposes patients to disease

Drug diversion in the Operating Room

Drug diversion exposes patients to disease
Drug diversion in the Operating Room is a serious problem

How much harm can a single drug diversion actually cause your facility? All it takes is one stolen or tampered syringe to cause a potential outbreak. Without a watchful eye, entire health care facilities are at risk of exposure.

For example, one diverting surgical technician put 5,900 patients at risk due to their carelessness. Not only did they expose patients to the disease, they also used fentanyl syringes for self-use. It led to 19 confirmed cases of Hepatitis C, and the diverting surgical technician now faces 30 years in prison.

In a separate outbreak instance, another surgical technician potentially exposed 2,900 patients to Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, and even HIV infection. 2 people tested positive for hepatitis as a result. This surgical technician faces charges of tampering and obtaining fentanyl by deceit.

Lesson learned: all it takes is one irresponsible surgical technician to cause a scare or outbreak. Patient safety is of the utmost importance — keep a watchful eye on any syringes in use. All it takes is one surgical technician to steal a syringe to compromise an entire facility. Check out the infographic below from Diversion Central by Omnicell for more information.

Omnicell Technologies and Solutions

Preventing the Unthinkable

 

Healthcare providers in all types of settings have reviewed and followed safe medical injection best practices. Nonetheless, contamination—the “unthinkable”—still happens.

The CDC estimates that there have been more than 50 outbreaks of Hepatitis C and/or Hepatitis B in the past decade due to reused needles, syringes or medication vials.*

In 2000-2001 a cancer clinic in Fremont, Nebraska caused the worst hepatitis outbreak in US history. During chemotherapy treatments, 857 patients who were already waging the fights of their lives against cancer, were inexplicably exposed to the deadly, blood-borne hepatitis C virus. At least ninety-nine of them contracted the lethal illness. The horror was unprecedented—this was the largest healthcare-transmitted outbreak of hepatitis C in American history.

I am a survivor of this outbreak and chose to use the money from my settlement against the oncology clinic to co-found the patient advocacy foundation HONOReform. We are now excited to offer the Free Injection Safety Education for Healthcare Providers and Consumers Program, which aims to leverage our story to help prevent other outbreaks.

The program is delivered by myself and my husband, Tom McKnight, a family physician who helped uncover the Nebraska outbreak. It outlines our own story of infection attributed to reuse of syringes in a medical setting. We also examine factors contributing to the Fremont outbreak and make recommendations for prevention.

The continuing education presentation is offered at low or no cost to organizations sponsoring continuing education activities for healthcare professionals or consumer-focused activities.

Learn more about the programs offered for:

To receive more information or learn about the options that might work for your organization, simply provide your email on the form here.

This work began as a response to an unthinkable, preventable tragedy. By building safeguards into the injection process, incentivizing health care providers at all levels to universally follow fundamental safety standards, and educating and reeducating providers, all patients will be protected all the time. Future tragedies can be avoided.

 

By Evelyn McKnight

 

*Source: http://www.cdc.gov/injectionsafety/pubs.html

© Copyright 2016 HONOReform