Unsafe injection practices can be a serious threat to a patient’s health. Health care providers (doctors, nurses, and anyone providing injections) should never reuse a needle or syringe from one patient to another. Both the needle and syringe must be discarded once they have been used. Reusing a needle or syringe can put patients in danger of getting hepatitis C, hepatitis B, and HIV.

The Health Department is a member of the One & Only Campaign, which began in 2009 in response to large numbers of patients having potential exposure to infectious diseases such as hepatitis C, hepatitis B, and HIV due to unsafe injection practices. The campaign was developed by the Safe Injection Practices Coalition, a partnership of health care-related organizations, patient advocacy organizations, industry partners, and other public health partners led by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

Needles, Syringes, and Multi-dose Vials

The following recommendations apply to the use of needles, syringes, and intravenous delivery systems:

  • Use aseptic technique to avoid contamination of sterile injection equipment.

  • Do not administer medications from a syringe to multiple patients, even if the needle or cannula on the syringe is changed. Needles and syringes are sterile, single-use items; they should not be reused for another patient or to access a medication or solution that might be used for a subsequent patient.

  • Use fluid infusion and administration sets (i.e., intravenous bags, tubing, and connectors) for one patient only and dispose appropriately after use. Consider a syringe or needle/cannula contaminated once it has been used to enter or connect to a patient's intravenous infusion bag or administration set.

  • Use single-dose vials for injectable medications whenever possible.

  • Do not administer medications from single-dose vials to multiple patients, or combine leftover contents for later use.

  • If multi-dose vials must be used, both the needle and syringe used to access the multi-dose vial must be sterile.

  • Do not keep multi-dose vials in the immediate patient treatment area and store in accordance with the manufacturer's recommendations. Discard if sterility is compromised or questionable.

  • Do not use bags or bottles of intravenous solution as a common source of supply for multiple patients.

For more information about preventing unsafe injection practices, please visit the CDC Injection Safety page.

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