First Let Us Do No Harm. Essential Drugs Monitor No. 013 (1992)
(1992; 1 page)


Medications and vaccinations are often administered via injection. One concern among many individuals regarding injections is equipment contamination. This article on the rational use of injection equipment critiques three types of syringes and compares their advantages and disadvantages, including their respective risks of contamination. The majority of health services use one of two types of syringes: sterilizable or single-use. Sterilizable syringes and needles are commonly made of high grade polypropylene that can withstand sterilization temperatures up to 130 degrees Celsius. According to the article, these syringes alleviate the problem of limited availability of injection equipment because they can be reused and are less expensive than single-use syringe. However, inadequate sterilization practices can lead to contaminated equipment and associated health risks. Single-use syringes are manufactured under strict controls and packaged in a sterile environment. The article states that when freshly opened, single-use syringes eliminate health risks associated with contamination, but they are often reused without sterilization and are more expensive than sterilizable syringes. A third type of syringe was developed to eliminate problems of reuse; auto-destruct syringes are designed to administer one standard dosage of a medication and cannot be reused. Many Expanded Programme on Immunization projects have started using these syringes to administer vaccinations. The article asserts that auto-destruct syringes eliminate the risk of contamination, but are more expensive than sterilizable or single-use syringes and must be disposed of following a standardized procedure. Additionally, because they can only be used once before they become nonoperational, auto-destruct syringes may contribute to limited availability of injection equipment. The article concludes by stating that regardless of the type of syringe used in a health facility, workers must be properly trained to administer injections and injections should not be overused. (Abstract by Flannery Bowman, 2013)

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