Purpose: Recommendations for safe medication injection practices to eliminate the risk of patient-to-patient transmission of blood-borne infections have been in place for many years. The purpose of our study was to evaluate the medication administration practices of Canadian anesthesiologists relative to current safe practice guidelines.
Methods: An anonymous 17-question online survey was sent to all members of the Canadian Anesthesiologists' Society (CAS) via the membership email list. Data pertaining to respondent demographics, practice characteristics, and medication preparation and administration practices were collected and analyzed descriptively using frequencies and percentages as well as Fisher's exact tests followed by post hoc multiple comparisons.
Results: Of the 2,656 CAS members, 546 (21%) responded. The practice of reusing needles (2%) and/or syringes (7%) between patients is reported by only a minority of practitioners; however, sharing a medication vial between more than one patient using new needles and syringes is still widely practiced with 83% doing this sometimes or routinely. The main reasons for sharing medications include the desire to reduce medication waste and the associated costs.
Conclusion: Sharing medication vials between multiple patients is common practice in Canada, with new needles and syringes used for each patient. Unfortunately, a small minority of anesthesiologists continue to reuse needles and/or syringes between patients, and this may pose a significant risk of patient-to-patient infection transmission.