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Injection infections not a thing of the past

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Healthcare Quality Strategies Inc. and Healthcare Quality Professionals of New Jersey on Friday sponsored a daylong conference to share safe injection practices with health care professionals, saying a failure to use best practices has led to recent cases of blood-borne infections.

For instance, in 2009, at an Ocean County oncology office, at least 29 patients contracted Hepatitis B due to using unwrapped syringes — exposing them to potential cross-contamination — and single-use vials of medication for multiple patients.

"The problem is the implementation. People often know what they're supposed to be doing, but they often can't translate that into what they do every day," said Dr. Barbara Montana, medical director of communicable diseases for the state Department of Health and Senior Services. "Often when we go in and we see these breaches, they honestly don't realize that what they're doing is bad practice."

"People tend, because of the pressures of getting patients in quickly, may do things to cut corners that they don't realize is bad practice. They may open needles and syringes in advance of seeing a patient, and leave them out in the environment where they can be contaminated," she added.

In response, the state is in its second year of participating in a Centers for Disease Control campaign, one of three funded states, to train and educate health care providers on some of the lesser-known prevention techniques. New Jersey has received nearly $300,000 in funding to train "ambassadors" to give presentations to other providers and create other education materials. Roughly 4,000 health care professionals in the state — including the Department of Health's long-term care facility inspectors — have seen the presentation.

Montana said the CDC is also working closely with Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to reduce preventable infections. Part of the CMS Partnership for Patients initiative is to reduce preventable hospital-acquired infections by 40 percent by 2013.

"There was a recent campaign to make sure facilities understand that single-dose, single-use vials are for only one person. There had been some pushback by some providers saying that because of drug shortages, perhaps that wasn't the best practice," Montana said.

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