Dear Colleague Letter - Proper Infection Control Techniques
January 16, 2008
I am writing to all physicians in New York State to stress the utmost importance of strict adherence to proper infection control techniques while delivering care to your patients. I am urging all physicians to carefully review their infection control practices and the practices of all staff under their supervision.
Several investigations conducted by the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) and the local departments of health have identified patient-to-patient transmission of hepatitis B and C associated with unsafe injection practices. These outbreaks are believed to be caused by the reuse of syringes and/or needles and the contamination of multidose vials.
These lapses in infection control techniques have had very serious consequences – most importantly for the affected patients, but also for the physician and his/her practice. Infection control lapses have resulted in:
- transmission of hepatitis B and/or hepatitis C to patients;
- broad notification of patients to inform them that they may have been exposed to bloodborne pathogens and should be tested for hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV;
- referral to the NYSDOH's Office of Professional Medical Conduct; and
- malpractice suits filed by patients.
Based on these recent events, I am urging all physicians to carefully review their infection control practices and the practices of all staff under their supervision. I am enclosing an overview of the key infection control practices that should be followed at all times by all healthcare providers. I cannot stress enough the gravity of this issue; as physicians, we must assure the public that the safe delivery of healthcare is our top priority.
If you have any questions or would like additional information, please contact the NYSDOH Bureau of Communicable Disease Control at (518) 473-4439. Thank you for your immediate attention to this urgent matter.
Richard F. Daines, M.D.
Commissioner of Health
CC: Local Health Department Commissioners and Public Health Directors