Hepatitis :: Cases of hepatitis B associated with lancing devices

Since 2004, seven cases of hepatitis B have been reported to the Health Protection Agency from care and residential homes following the incorrect use of lancing devices. On further investigation by local Health Protections Units eleven more cases have been identified in diabetics who have probably been infected by these means.

In four patients, hepatitis B infection had contributed to their death. A further single case in a diabetic in another home is still under investigation. There have been reports that some care and residential homes have used the single patient device on more than one patient. As a small amount of blood can remain on the cap of the device, this can lead to infection being passed between patients.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has issued a renewed safety warning to healthcare workers over the use of these devices in nursing and care homes after the Agency received continued reports of infection being passed via these devices [1].

The MHRA has advised that care workers or healthcare professionals taking blood glucose samples in any multi-patient environment, including nursing homes and care homes must only use:

disposable single-use lancing devices for each resident or patient (these are used once and then the entire lancing device is discarded), or;

a non-disposable lancing device, but this must be one which is intended to be used to take blood samples from multiple patients, used with disposable single-use lancets.

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