Reusing Syringes Scandal

Yet another reason I advocate active involvement in your own health care
….the recent medical scandal on reused syringes is probably just the tip of that iceberg

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Patients Exposed to Hepatitis or HIV

More on injection safety

Update: 2018: I saw a reference to a group of students who were doing public diabetes testing and apparently reusing needles. However, the link to the video did not load so can’t provide any additional info on that one.

May, 2018: A doctor in Wake County, NC has been accused of reusing needles. As far as I can tell, no ruling has been made in her case at this point. More information on Doctor accused of reusing medical needles. Once you click on the Winston-Salem Journal link, please search for the title. I’ve stopped deep linking on medical websites because they keep changing the page url without notice.

Update: 2015: A Texas nurse accused of reusing syringes and putting the health of her patients at risk.
The nurse in question admitted reusing syringes for the previous 6 months and believed that it was “a safe, cost-saving measure if no fluids were withdrawn into the syringe before injection of the saline flush.” More information on CDC report on HCV transmission following reuse of syringes. Once you click on the link, please search for the title article. I’ve stopped deep linking on medical websites because they keep changing the page url without notice.

I caught the tail-end of a newscast with Charlie Gibson tonight, talking about a large number of people who were unwittingly exposed to risk of hepatitis or HIV, by medical staff who administered injections with used syringes or multi-use vials. The practice of reusing syringes shocked me. The dangers should seem evident to anyone.

Oh my God.

I have always advocate a lack of shyness with hospital staff because I know the statistics on how many people get infections, including dangerous MRSA and/or staph infections while they are in the hospital ((75,000 die each year, according to last count I saw…this is infection developed in the hospital and is most commonly traced to improper hygiene on the part of hospital staff – not sanitizing hands in-between every patient). I’d rather be considered annoying than to develop a staph infection while trying to be polite.

When my own mom was in the hospital I watched the nurses like a hawk and made sure they sanitized before they put their hands anywhere near my mom’s IV or catheter. More than once, I had to remind the nurse to sanitize. I was not shy about it. My Mom’s health was on the line.

However, as careful as I’ve always been in educating people about hospitial risks including being given the wrong drug accidentally, or the wrong dosage, I never once considered that anyone in their right mind would ever use a syringe that had previously been used on anothe patient.


You would never know if about a practice of reused syringes unless you asked and who would think to do that. Apparently, it’s a very good idea to ask.

So, what this tells me is that when children get their shots for school, parents should directly ask….has that syringe or that vial been used before? And if it has, request a new one. Anytime an elderly person gets a flu shot, same care should be taken. Assume nothing and make sure you are not receiving medicine through a reused syringe.

And your risk is much higher if in an outpatient setting so be extra vigilant about asking that a new syringe be used EVERY time and that the vial is not multi-use. There is a movement underfoot to do away with vials that hold more than one dose altogether and I think it’s a good idea, a really good idea.

If you are thinking this is an isolated incident, just do a little research online. If you put in
“reusing syringes” in google, you’ll get information on a gynecologist in New York, an outpatient clinic in Nevada, A doctor and nurse anesthetist in Long Island, a doctor in Bloomington, Indiana and a doctor in Rhode Island who have all been accused of or convicted of reusing syringes and exposing patients to risks they would not otherwise have had exposure to, as a result.

Now that the most recent case has been exposed nationally, I expect to see a great deal more such reports cropping up. I suspect what is known at this moment is only a tiny, tiny tip of a huge iceberg.

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