Just today I learned of the newly launched "One and Only Campaign", the mission of which is to create zero tolerance for poor infection control practices in health care facilities.
Apparently, thousands of infections are caused by the inexcusable reuse of syringes by health care providers across the country, and many of these infections do indeed lead to unnecessary illness and death. In fact, in February of 2008, over 40,000 patients were exposed to potentially deadly bloodborne diseases at an endoscopy center in Las Vegas, Nevada due to the reuse of syringes that should have only been used for one patient and then properly disposed of.
According to the One and Only Campaign website, "the goal of the One & Only Campaign is to improve safe injection practices across healthcare settings. The practices within an organization are highly influenced by its culture or are an expression of its culture. Through education, outreach, and grassroots initiatives, the One & Only Campaign will seek to influence the culture of patient safety."
The description continues: "The One & Only Campaign is an education and awareness campaign aimed at both healthcare providers and the public to increase proper adherence to safe injection practices to prevent disease transmission from the misuse of needles, syringes, and medication vials in outpatient settings. While the campaign will be initially rolled out in targeted locations, the vision is to develop a concept that can be replicated nationwide."
At this late date, I am honestly personally shocked that there are still U.S. health care facilities who reuse medical equipment and disposable injection devices that are truly meant for one-time use. While nosocomial infections do indeed occur on a daily basis in health care facilities the world over, we are, after all, more than 25 years into the Age of AIDS, and I have apparently been mistakenly naive to think that health care facilities in the United States have all learned their lessons from the days before Universal Precautions were the norm of medical practice.
Let's hope that The One and Only Campaign is effective, and that health care providers and facilities learn from the thousands of grave errors that have been made, often with deadly results. And remember that, as a patient and health care consumer, you have a right to ask your health care facilities about their infection control practices prior to agreeing to treatment.