Unsafe practices during diabetes care (blood glucose monitoring and insulin administration) have led to multiple outbreaks of hepatitis B virus and put persons at risk for acquiring other blood borne viruses, including HIV and hepatitis C virus. From 2008 to 2012, 35 outbreaks of viral hepatitis related to healthcare were reported* to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and of those, 33 (94%) occurred in non-hospital settings. In fact, 13 hepatitis B virus outbreaks were associated with infection control breaches during assisted monitoring of blood glucose in long-term care facilities.
The following recommendations should be followed by anyone who performs or assists with blood glucose monitoring and/or insulin administration. These recommendations apply not only to licensed healthcare facilities, but also to any setting where finger stick procedures are performed, insulin is administered, or blood glucose meters are used. Healthcare providers who supervise other healthcare staff that perform these procedures should be aware of these infection control recommendations and assure that assisted diabetes care is performed correctly and safely every time.
Remember these 4 important requirements to ensure safe diabetes care:
- Finger stick devices should never be used for more than one person, even if lancets are changed and attempts are made to clean and disinfect the device.
- Blood glucose meters should be assigned to an individual person and not be shared, whenever possible. If blood glucose meters must be shared, the device should be cleaned and disinfected after every use, per the 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, even if needles are changed and attempts are made to clean and disinfect the device.
- Perform hand hygiene before blood glucose monitoring, wear gloves during blood glucose monitoring, and remove gloves and perform hand hygiene after each patient contact.
For additional questions, please contact April Burdorf (303.692.3514) at April.Burdorf@state.co.us, Injection Safety Coordinator at CDPHE.