Injection Safety


Injection Safety Information for Providers

Released March 2008

Several recent investigations undertaken by State and Local health departments and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have identified improper use of syringes, needles, and medication vials during routine healthcare procedures, such as administering injections. These practices have resulted in one or more of the following:

  • transmission of bloodborne viruses, including hepatitis C virus to patients;
  • notification of thousands of patients of possible exposure to bloodborne pathogens and recommendation that they be tested for hepatitis C virus, hepatitis B virus, and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV);
  • referral of providers to licensing boards for disciplinary action; and
  • malpractice suits filed by patients.

These unfortunate events serve as a reminder of the serious consequences of failure to maintain strict adherence to safe injection practices during patient care. Injection safety and other basic infection control practices are central to patient safety. All healthcare providers are urged to carefully review their infection control practices and the practices of all staff under their supervision. In particular, providers should:

  • never administer medications from the same syringe to more than one patient, even if the needle is changed; and
  • never enter a vial with a syringe or needle that has been used for a patient if the same medication vial might be used for another patient.

Hepatitis C virus, hepatitis B virus, and HIV can be spread from patient to patient when these simple precautions are not followed. Additional protection is offered when medication vials can be dedicated to a single patient. It is important that:

  • medications packaged as single-use vials never be used for more than one patient;
  • medications packaged as multi-use vials be assigned to a single patient whenever possible;
  • bags or bottles of intravenous solution not be used as a common source of supply for more than one patient; and
  • absolute adherence to proper infection control practices be maintained during the preparation and administration of injected medications.

PDF icon Diagram of Unsafe Injection Practices and Disease Transmission*

* Links to non-Federal organizations found at this site are provided solely as a service to our users. These links do not constitute an endorsement of these organizations or their programs by CDC or the Federal Government, and none should be inferred. CDC is not responsible for the content of the individual organization Web pages found at these links.


Date last modified: March 27, 2008
Content source: 
Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion (DHQP)
National Center for Preparedness, Detection, and Control of Infectious Diseases