Bloodborne Infections from Diabetes Supplies? Yep. You read that right.

biohazard-3-1307153-640x480The longer I have diabetes, the more I learn about how we, as a community, have a lot to learn.

If you’ve ever been a patient at a hospital or a health clinic, you know that the goal is to send you home healthier than when you arrived.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t always happen and PWDs are more susceptible. It’s not just blood glucose levels we need to worry about while we’re under a medical team’s care. We also have to worry about bloodborne virus transmissions. I didn’t know  until I started to do some research. What I found shocked me – and I’m sure it will shock you as well.

Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is a bloodborne infection that can cause serious, deadly issues (think liver cancer or cirrhosis). It can be transmitted a number of ways, including sharing of needles or blood glucose testing equipment.

Hepatitis B Virus (HBV) can survive outside the body at least 7 days and still be capable of causing infection. Think shared blood glucose testing equipment. Anywhere. Are you sure that the health care professional has washed his/her hands before putting on those gloves? Did you see them disinfect the BG meter? Are they using a single use lancet? Did an infected person’s blood land on the cart, then transferred blood to the new pair of gloves the team member just put on when he/she picked up the meter and moved the cart?

Even worse? Think about your kids letting a friend use a lancet device “just for fun.” Sadly, even kids can have Hepatitis B.

When you start to think about all the ways this virus can be transmitted, you might begin to feel sick to your stomach. (That’s one of the symptoms, by the way, but many of the symptoms are “run of the mill” when you have diabetes.)

But where it’s happening most often is long-term care facilities. And these are preventable.

Between 2008 – 2014, there have been 23 reported outbreaks, 175 outbreak-associated cases, >10,700 persons notified for screening. 17 of the outbreaks occurred in long-term care facilities, with at least 129 outbreak-associated cases of HBV and approximately 1,600 at- risk persons notified for screening. What should worry you is this next statistic:

82% (14/17) of the outbreaks were associated with infection control breaks during assisted monitoring of blood glucose (AMBG). (http://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/statistics/healthcareoutbreaktable.htm)

There have also been cases of Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C transmissions at hemodialysis clinics (and if you think that’s not diabetes related, think of how many of us may be on dialysis for kidney disease) and home healthcare agencies.

It’s not like nurses or doctors think: “How can I hurt patients today?” But these outbreaks are PREVENTABLE. How? By following proper infection protocol policies and training healthcare professionals and patients to not share needles or lancing devices (and a few more steps).

Now, I’m sure you’re thinking: “Why should I care about this?” Simple.

Someday, it could be you.

Or someone you love.

And if we don’t ensure that these infection risks are mitigated, then who will?

What You Can Do

DPAC_ASKanEXPERT_infectionJoin the online presentation of DPAC’s Ask The Expert presentation on Tuesday, January 26th at 12pm.

Diabetes Patient Advocacy Coalition (DPAC) went straight to the CDC and they’re pleased to have a passionate expert to share her thoughts and what we, as the patient community, can do.

Dr. Pamela Allweiss, MD, MPH, Medical Officer for the Division of Diabetes Translation at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will discuss the risks of virus transmission in healthcare settings (hospitals, clinics, and long-term care facilities) in the United States.

Healthcare-associated infections (HAI) are a serious threat to even the healthiest patients; people with diabetes are at higher risk than the general population. Did you know that there have been outbreaks of Hepatitis B in healthcare settings because of improper infection protocol and diabetes supplies?

During this presentation, you will have an opportunity to learn more about why this is happening in our healthcare system, ask questions, and discover how to mitigate these risks and ways to engage your state policymakers to enforce infection control protocols to ensure your safety.

Register by clicking here. Even if you can’t attend the live presentation, you can still send questions to info [at] diabetespac.org ahead of time and get a link to the recording after the presentation ends.

We’ve got enough to worry about. Let’s work to worry about one.less.thing.

 

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