Injection safety key to protect residents from viral hepatitis

Viral hepatitis is an infection that causes liver inflammation and damage. There are five different viruses that cause hepatitis, including hepatitis A, B, C, D and E. The hepatitis A and E viruses typically cause only short-term infections that the body is able to fight off. The hepatitis B, C and D viruses can cause long-lasting infections that can lead to chronic liver problems and even death. Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C and Hepatitis D spread through contact with an infected person’s blood. Hepatitis B and D may also spread through contact with other body fluids.

Of the 61 healthcare-associated outbreaks reported to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) from 2008 to 2016, 18 of them occurred in long-term care settings. Most of these outbreaks were caused by lapses in infection control such as unsafe injection practices or reuse of needles, fingerstick devices and syringes, according to the CDC. To help protect residents from contracting viral hepatitis, it’s important that long-term care workers consistently practice injection safety.

In 2009, the CDC united with healthcare-related organizations, patient advocacy groups and public health partners to develop an effort to eliminate unsafe injections. According to its website, “Through targeted education and awareness efforts, the ‘One & Only Campaign’ empowers patients and healthcare providers to insist on nothing less than safe injections – every time, for every patient.” To help support injection safety, the campaign promotes a list of guidelines aimed at helping healthcare workers deliver safer care. These guidelines can be adopted by skilled nursing facilities to improve the safety of injections.

Injection safety guidelines
  • Never administer medications from the same syringe to more than one patient, even if the needle is changed.
  • After a syringe or needle has been used to enter or connect to a patient’s IV it is contaminated and should not be used on another patient or to enter a medication vial.
  • Never enter a vial with a used syringe or needle.
  • Never use medications packaged as single-dose vials for more than one patient.
  • Assign medications packaged as multi-dose vials to a single patient whenever possible.
  • Do not use bags or bottles of intravenous solution as a common source of supply for more than one patient.
  • Follow proper infection control practices during the preparation and administration of injected medications.
  • Wear a surgical mask when placing a catheter or injecting material into the spinal canal or subdural space.

Reference: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (n.d.) Injection Safety Guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [PDF file]. Retrieved from