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HHS Has Taken Steps to Address Unsafe Injection Practices, but More Action Is Needed

Sep 04, 2012

Data on the extent and cost of blood-borne pathogen outbreaks related to unsafe injection practices in  ambulatory care settings are limited and likely underestimate the full extent of such outbreaks. An agency within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC), collects data on outbreaks identified by state and local health departments. These data show that from 2001 through 2011, there were at least 18 outbreaks of viral hepatitis associated with unsafe injection practices in ambulatory settings, such as physician offices or ambulatory surgical centers (ASC). CDC officials and others believe that the known outbreaks do not represent the full extent of such outbreaks for a number of reasons, such as infections often being difficult to detect and trace to specific health care facilities.

Additionally, comprehensive data on the cost of blood-borne pathogen outbreaks to the health care system do not exist, but CDC and other officials believe these costs can be substantial for those affected. For more information, click here.