Can single-dose vials be used more than once? If you have been asked this question by a colleague recently we hope your answer was a resounding “NO!”. It is clear, from evidence gathered over the past five years, that using an injectable medication labeled as single-dose or single-use in multiple patients can cause patient infections and even death. The CDC recently put out a position paper on the use of single-dose/single-use injectable vials to help clarify confusion about the proper use of these products in health care settings. The following is a brief summary of the position paper.
- Vials labeled by the manufacturer as single-use/single-dose are to be used only for a single patient and a single procedure. Period.
- Most injectables labeled as single-dose/single-use do not contain preservatives to prevent the growth of microorganisms. The use of single-dose/single-use medications on multiple patients has been associated with ongoing outbreaks resulting in potential exposure to infectious diseases. 26 outbreaks involving 95,000 patients in the last 5 years alone.
- Using single-dose/single-use injectable medications on one patient only does not result in increased healthcare costs. In fact, following CDC guidelines can save healthcare dollars by preventing unnecessary hospitalizations or lawsuits related to patient injury.
- When wasting product is a concern or when a drug shortage is already occurring, CDC recommends using QUALIFIED pharmacy professionals who follow USP 797 guidelines to repackage medication from a previously unopened single-dose/single-use vial into multiple single-use vehicles (e.g., syringes). If you contract with a sterile compounding pharmacy to do this for you, it is extremely important to make sure that the contracted pharmacy has the expertise, equipment, training and quality control to ensure that split products are not contaminated.
- Do not attempt to address the problem of drug shortages by lowering safety standards. Extreme caution and adherence to published guidelines is imperative.
It is everyone’s responsibility to ensure that safe medication injection practices are followed. Your patients trust you.