NYS Health Commissioner Urges Health Care Providers to View New Safe Injection Practices Training Video

Effort to halt spread of life-threatening infections and growing public health problem

ALBANY, N.Y. (May 26, 2010 – New York State Health Commissioner Richard F. Daines, M.D., today urged New York health care providers who administer or supervise injections or start intravenous lines to take advantage of an important training opportunity announced today by the national Safe Injection Practices Coalition (SIPC).

As part of its One and Only campaign to promote safe injection practices, SIPC is offering a new training video free of charge to the first 1,000 health care providers nationwide who request a copy.

Narrated by Dr. Michael Bell, an infection control expert for the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the video underscores safe injection practices by depicting scenarios of health care providers interacting in circumstances where injections are given. By dispelling common misconceptions – such as the belief that it is safe to administer medication from single-dose vials to multiple patients – the video demonstrates basic, evidence-based precautions that must be used at all times to protect patients and prevent disease transmission due to unsafe injection practices.

Unsafe injection practices include: reusing a needle or syringe from patient to patient or entering a medication vial with a needle or syringe that has been previously used. It is not safe to change only the needle and reuse the syringe—this practice can transmit bloodborne diseases like hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and HIV.

Since 1999, the CDC reports that more than 125,000 Americans have been notified that they were potentially exposed to infection with life-threatening hepatitis viruses and HIV due to unsafe injection practices such as the reuse of syringes.

"When you roll up your sleeve to get an injection at the doctor's office, would you ever think of asking if they're reusing a needle or syringe? Or if they're accessing a single-use or multi-use vial?" Commissioner Daines said. "We hope this campaign will empower patients to ask those questions to make sure that they're receiving medication from one needle in one syringe, used only one time."

Under a federal grant, the state health departments in New York and Nevada will evaluate the One and Only campaign. Both states have experienced large scale public health notifications because of unsafe injection practices.

In New York, the grant is supervised by Dale L. Morse, M.D., Assistant Commissioner in the Office of Science. Dr. Morse has more than 20 years experience as a public health epidemiologist and is the immediate past chair of the federal Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. His staff conducted focus groups in March and April in the Capital District, New York City and Nassau County and interviews in the Capital District and New York City. Health care providers and targeted health care consumers – such as people who are receiving chemotherapy, injections for pain management or who are on dialysis – were asked about their knowledge of safe injection practices, barriers to observing safe injection practices, and having a frank conversation with their health care provider about the topic.

Commissioner Daines has been a strong advocate for safe injection practices, recognizing that contamination of multi-dose vials by reused syringes has been traced to transmission of disease by injection throughout the United States. Under his direction the state Department of Health (DOH) has updated the required infection control curriculum, worked with the state society of anesthesiologists to train their members and written to every physician in the State on the issue.

"Throughout the Unites States, thousands of people have been exposed to serious bloodborne diseases because of infection control lapses that could easily have been prevented," Dr. Daines said. "Unfortunately, New York State is no exception. We are pleased to work with the Safe Injection Practices Coalition to make health care providers and patients, alike, aware of the problem and its common sense solution."

SIPC is composed of patient advocacy organizations, foundations, provider associations, and societies and industry partners that have united to halt disease transmission caused by unsafe injection practices in U.S. health care facilities.

"The vast majority of health care providers in New York State give injections properly," Dr. Daines said. "But it's disturbing that some New Yorkers are put at risk because of a lack of knowledge of safe infection practices. I strongly encourage health care providers to take this opportunity to improve patient safety."

To view the training or to request a copy, go to www.oneandonlycampaign.org.

Milestones in New York Unsafe Injection Practices

In the past decade, New York has seen several serious outbreaks involving the transmission of infectious viruses, such as hepatitis C, caused by health care providers who reused syringes in multi-dose vials. Hepatitis C is a sometimes-fatal illness that can be contracted through exposure to the blood of an infected person.

  • October 2009 – A Manhattan anesthesiologist lost his medical license after an investigation by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene indicated that he had reused syringes at various gastroenterology practices in New York City while administering anesthesia to patients. Ultimately, the City sent letters urging 4,500 patients who received anesthesia from this physician to get tested for hepatitis B and C and HIV.
  • Autumn 2007 – DOH concluded an investigation of hepatitis C exposure linked to a Long Island anesthesiologist. DOH ultimately notified more than 8,000 patients that the doctor had reused syringes – exposing thousands of patients to bloodborne pathogen infections – resulting in transmission of hepatitis C. The physician is practicing under conditions specified by the state Office for Professional Medical Conduct for three years.
  • December 2007 –DOH investigated unsafe injection practices linked to a Manhasset obstetrician-gynecologist who reused syringes when administering flu shots to at least 36 patients. The physician's license was suspended for one year; that suspension was stayed with one year of probation.

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