Reuse of Single Dose Drug Vials Increases Infection Risks

syringe%202.jpgWhen a medication or drug comes with a “single-dose” or “single-use” labeling, it is specifically required to be used for a single patient, and must not be used for multiple patients. However, the use of single-dose or single-use vials for multiple patients is fairly common at hospitals around the country. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is warning that such practices may have a detrimental effect on patient safety, and may contribute to infections.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently released a report in which it followed two serious epidemics that were traced to the use of single-use vials for multiple patients. These cases occurred in Arizona and Delaware, where a total of 10 patients were reported hospitalized due to life-threatening MRSA or staph infections. The infections were traced to the use of single-dose vials of contrast agents on multiple patients. Contrast agents are used to provide clearer x-ray images.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention traced the origin of the infections and the source of the contamination. The agency found that the staff members at these hospitals did not have multiple-use vials of the drug in question, and therefore, simply made use of single-use vials. The single-use vials were diluted, and the solution was administered to several patients. Infection risks are high when such single dose vials are used on several patients, and that is exactly what happened in these cases.

At least one patient who was administered the injections died, but in that case, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has not been able to confirm that the cause of death was MRSA infection. The cause of death for that patient was reported as multiple-drug overdose.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there has been an increase in such medical errors recently. Since 2007, the agency has come across at least 20 such incidents where single-use vials that were meant to be used for one person only, were used across a number of patients, increasing infection risks.

Those risks are high right now, because there is a nationwide shortage of several drugs. Manufacturing problems at several pharmaceutical companies have meant shortages of several drugs, and this has become a pressing medical issue. There is reason to worry that these drug shortages could encourage hospitals and healthcare facilities to improvise, and dilute single-use vials to use in multiple patients. There are serious infection risks with these practices, and hospitals need to dedicate single-use vials for single patients only, to reduce infection rates.

The Indiana medical malpractice lawyers at Montross Miller Muller Mendelson Kennedy are dedicated to the representation of persons who have been injured due to the negligence of medical professionals, like doctors and nurses across Indiana. If you have suffered due to the negligence of a health care professional, consult an experienced medical malpractice attorney at our firm.