Assisted blood glucose monitoring in long-term care facilities, clinic, and hospitals is sadly a primary source of blood-borne virus disease transmission. Between 1990 and 2008, there were 18 hepatitis B virus infection outbreaks in the United States that were associated with the improper use of blood glucose monitoring equipment. 147 people acquired hepatitis B. Six of those patients died.
Unfortunately, preventable outbreaks are still occurring due to breaches in infection control policies. Recently an outbreak of Hepatitis B was attributed to improper assisted blood glucose monitoring in Pennsylvania.
Each state has its own public health processes. Ask your Governor and state legislators to make sure your state public health offices are following CDC guidelines for infection control and enforcing the policies created to safeguard patients and healthcare personnel.
CDC recommended practices for preventing blood-borne pathogen transmission during glucose monitoring in healthcare settings include:
– Lancet/fingerstick devices should never be used for more than one person. (Single disposable lancet devices are recommended for assisted blood glucose monitoring.) The shared use or re-use of these devices is one of the common root causes of exposure and infection when multiple persons require blood glucose monitoring assistance.
– Whenever possible, blood glucose meters should not be shared. If they must be shared, the device should be cleaned and disinfected after every use, per manufacturer’s instructions. If the manufacturer does not specify how the device should be cleaned and disinfected then it should not be shared.
– Insulin pens and other medication cartridges and syringes are for single-patient-use only and should never be used for more than one person.
– Hand hygiene protocols must be consistently followed: gloves must be worn during assisted blood glucose monitoring and must be changed between patient contacts or touching a contaminated surface/open finger-stick wound, hand washing with soap and water or hands rubbed thoroughly with an alcohol-based hand rub must be completed immediately after removing gloves and before touching medical supplies intended for use by another person.
– Provide a full HBV vaccination series to all previously unvaccinated staff persons who may come in contact with blood during activities and to patients with diabetes.
Please make sure that the public health departments in our state are diligent in making sure these and other safety steps outlined by CDC are implemented, practiced, and enforced. These infections are preventable with your help.