Albany health officials assure safe practices - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Albany health officials assure safe practices

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March 5, 2008

Albany -- It's believed four Nevada health clinics re-used needles on patients. In south Georgia, medical professionals say it's frightening, and they've put several practices in place to make sure it doesn't happen here.

Ultimately they say it's up to the patient to be cautious. News that needles were reused at Las Vegas clinics raises concern from patients in south Georgia. Medical professionals say, it's simply bad practices.

"Disposable means just that, throw it away after it's used," said Public Health RN Daniel Staib.

In 2000, Georgia's Department of Public Health adopted OSHA regulations for blood pathogens. That means bottles of medications must be wiped with an alcohol swab, before the needle goes in. Sterile techniques must be used to draw the fluid. It's multi dose bottles however that seem to cause the problem.

"I might take ten different syringes and go into it ten different times to get the dose out, but you have to be very careful with sterile technique," says Infectious Diseases Specialist Dr. Craig Smith.  

Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital strictly forbids health professionals from using the same needle twice even on the same patient.

"That is an unreliable process, and therefore is unsafe and therefore we don't allow it," says Senior Vice President Medical Affairs, Dr. Doug Patten.  

Public health uses needles that can't be reused. "When I'm finished I'm going to pull this forward and click it, there's no way now that's ever going to be reused," Staib said.

The only items Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital reuses are instruments for surgery. "To be re-used they have to go through a very rigorous re-processing basically they go through the process like they're being re-manufactured," Patten said.

Everyone we talked to today said it's up to the patient to raise concerns. "I think we all should all have a high index of suspicion when we got to our practitioner if you're not, if you're concerned ask," said Staib.

After all it's your health you're protecting.

In Nevada, six people contracted Hepatitis C from the dangerous practices. The clinics licenses have been suspended.

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