Washington – Less than one year after health officials revealed what became the largest outbreak investigation of its kind in U.S. healthcare history, a broad-based group of national healthcare leaders has launched a campaign to prevent future tragedies.
Today, the Safe Injection Practices Coalition — comprised of patient advocacy organizations, foundations, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), including Dr. Richard Besser, Acting Director, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Acting Administrator, Agency for Toxic Substance and Disease Registry, provider associations and societies and industry partners — joined Congresswoman Shelley Berkley (D-NV) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) to launch the One & Only Campaign, an education and awareness initiative aimed at both healthcare providers and patients.
The One & Only Campaign will attack the root cause of many recent outbreaks — the reuse of syringes — by educating healthcare providers and patients about the fundamental evidence-based injection safety practices that ensure patient safety.
The campaign's launch follows a recent article, published in the January 6, 2009 edition of the Annals of Internal Medicine, that revealed the occurrence of 33 outbreaks of viral hepatitis in nonhospital healthcare settings over the last decade. All of these outbreaks involved failure on the part of healthcare providers to adhere to fundamental infection control practices, most notably by reusing syringes.
"Sadly, the continued occurrence of life-threatening outbreaks of infectious diseases caused by healthcare providers' misuse of needles, syringes and medication vials shows no signs of abating. Even after last year's horrific tragedy in Las Vegas made national headlines, similar incidents continue to occur," said Evelyn V. McKnight, President/Co-founder of HONOReform and campaign co-chairman who was a victim of a similar tragedy involving an outpatient cancer center in Nebraska.
In February 2008, state and federal health officials announced that 40,000 patients – a number that has climbed to more than 50,000 – were possibly exposed to deadly bloodborne diseases at an endoscopy center in Las Vegas because healthcare providers reused syringes.
"Almost a year ago, thousands of Nevadans were exposed to Hepatitis C and HIV as a result of unsafe practices by clinics that were reusing single-use vials and syringes. It should be common sense that these materials be used only once but unfortunately that doesn't always happen, especially in nonhospital settings," said Nevada Senator Harry Reid. "I appreciate the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Safe Injection Practices Coalition for launching the 'One & Only' campaign to educate everyone involved on this issue. The simple act of raising awareness about safe injection practices will help to protect Nevadans against preventable exposures to deadly diseases."
"Americans trust their doctors and other healthcare providers to keep them safe when they receive medical services like cancer screenings. But as we learned from tragic events in southern Nevada last year, patients must be taught how to ensure they are protected," said Congresswoman Berkley. "Exposure incidents like the one in Las Vegas happened as result of inexcusable lapses in basic patient safety and because of unsafe cost-cutting efforts. A foolproof system involving both patients and providers is needed to prevent these types of exposures from being repeated. The "One & Only" campaign will help to empower patients to ask the right questions of their doctors. And it teaches healthcare providers to remember the importance to patient safety of 'one needle, one syringe, and only one time for every single injection'. I commend the leadership of those taking part in this new campaign and those who have developed this important response to dangerous medical practices uncovered in Las Vegas and other communities nationwide."
"The public deserves to be reassured they will be safe when seeking healthcare whether in a hospital, outpatient clinic or private physician's office. This campaign is much needed, especially in my home state of Nevada, and will help restore the public trust in our healthcare system," said Dr. Lawrence Sands, chief health officer of the Southern Nevada Health District (SNHD), a member of the campaign.
Recognizing the magnitude of the tragedy in Las Vegas, the One & Only Campaign will be piloted in Nevada. The campaign includes a set of training materials designed to remind doctors, nurses and other healthcare providers that syringes must be used one time only. It will also produce a set of patient-focused materials designed to empower patients, helping erect another layer of protection.
"This One & Only Campaign has been designed by providers and patients to have a lasting impact. While providers ultimately must be held responsible for following all safety standards, we want patients to feel empowered and able to speak up if they have a concern," said Charlie Stokes, CEO/President of the CDC Foundation and campaign co-chairman.
In addition to the CDC Foundation, HONOReform and SNHD, the campaign is funded by multiple partners including the Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care (AAAHC), American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA), Ambulatory Surgery Foundation, Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology, Inc (APIC), BD (Becton, Dickinson and Company), Nebraska Medical Association (NMA) and Nevada State Medical Association (NSMA).
Once launched in Nevada, the Safe Injection Practices Coalition will conduct an evaluation to measure its effectiveness and make necessary adjustments prior to introducing it in other states – likely those impacted by similar recent outbreaks – and ultimately nationwide.
"Our healthcare system must institute a zero tolerance policy when it comes to unsafe injection practices so such outbreaks are seen as 'never events'. These tragedies are 100 percent preventable, and I am hopeful this campaign will save lives by ensuring all healthcare providers follow fundamental safe injection practices," McKnight said.
About the One & Only Campaign