Sunday, November 18, 2007

Ask your Healthcare Provider about Infection Control

A recent incident in Nassau County, Long Island, New York, in which a number of patients were infected with hepatitis C, prompted me to write this blog post. Hepatitis C is a debilitating virus infection of the liver which can lead to cirrhosis of the liver and even liver cancer over time.

In the Long Island case, an anesthesiologist who specialized in pain management was found to have used improper infection control techniques while giving epidural injections for the relief of severe lower back pain. The affected patients went in for the relief of their chronic and severe back pain and came back with a serious, life threatening illness. All patients who received these injections were instructed to get tested for hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and HIV.

Unfortunately this has not been the first case of the transmission of hepatitis C, hepatitis B, and even HIV through the use of improper sterilization of instruments. In the case of the Long Island physician, he had reused syringes, only replacing the needle, with multi-dose vials of the anesthetic solution. As a result, the multi-dose vials became contaminated with hepatitis C. There have also been documented cases of contamination after endoscopic procedures such as colonoscopy or laparoscopy. How many cases of life-threatening hospital acquired infections and MRSA have resulted from intubation and catheterization.

As a patient, it is important to question your healthcare provider about his or her sterility procedures. Refuse any medication given from multi-dose vials. It might be a means of the doctor saving money, but it could put your health in danger. Also, before submitting to injections or any other invasive techniques, make sure that there are no alternative treatments available.

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1 comment:

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