Multi-Dose Vials In The Spotlight

The recent hepatitis C viral outbreak at the Singapore General Hospital (SGH) has put multi-dose vials under the spotlight as a possible source of the infection. However, doctors say that many local healthcare institutions have been reducing usage of multi-dose vials, even before the outbreak.
This is due to the risk of infection that arises from using such vials, said disease specialist Leong Hoe Nam of the Rophi Clinic at Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital.

Multi-dose vials typically hold several doses of liquid medication that can be shared by two or three patients. To avoid contamination, a brand-new needle and syringe are usually used to extract the contents for each patient. The rubber stopper on top of each vial is usually also disinfected with an alcohol solution prior to use.

If guidelines are followed, risk of contamination is low, said Dr Ben Ng, a senior consultant at Arden Endocrinology Specialist Clinic.

"Both single-dose and multi-dose injection medication vials are used in our public hospitals," said the Ministry of Health a statement on Wednesday night (9 Oct).

"Our public hospitals utilise multi-dose vials where the preparation is specifically formulated for such use, and governed by safety protocols."

Source: “SGH hep C outbreak: Multi-dose vials come under scrutiny” (Straits Times, 9 October 2015)

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