20 October 2020

Blood glucose devices reused for months in Victorian quarantine

Communicable Disease COVID-19 General Practice

People who had their blood glucose levels tested in Victorian quarantine accommodation may have been exposed to hepatitis and HIV after the same single-use devices were kept in circulation for several months.

Clinicians are urged to refer any patients who used a provided device while in mandatory quarantine between 29 March and 20 August to call the hotline on 1800 356 061 if they have not already been contacted.

The hotline is open seven days from 8am-8pm and interpreters are available.

The Department of Health and Human Services said it was helping Alfred Health contact those who may have been exposed, to offer free screening for Hepatitis B and C and HIV.

The risk of these patients contracting blood-borne viruses by using the devices is low, according to a statement issued on Tuesday by Victorian Deputy Chief Health Officer Dr Annaliese van Diemen.

“Blood glucose level testing devices intended for use by one person were used across other residents. The lancet (or needle) was changed between individuals, however, the body of the device could have retained microscopic amounts of blood. This is where the cross-contamination risk lies if used across multiple people,” Dr van Diemen said.

“This device is mostly used to test blood glucose levels in people with diabetes, but it is also used for pregnant women, or people who are generally unwell.”

An independent investigation into how the devices came to be reused is under way, run by Safer Care Victoria.

Patients are being contacted “by phone, or by letter if we can’t get through”, according to Safer Care Victoria.

“If you have contracted a blood-borne virus, we will arrange for free and confidential medical follow-up, counselling and support,” it said in a statement.

The DHHS said the devices were “immediately removed from use” in the mandatory accommodation when Alfred Health became aware of the issue.

Any patients staying in the accommodation during that period who used their own personal device to test their blood glucose levels, or who did not have their blood glucose tested, are not at risk.

More information from the Victorian government here.

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5 Comments on "Blood glucose devices reused for months in Victorian quarantine"

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Peter Bradley
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Peter Bradley
4 months 11 days ago

If, as stated, a new lancet was used in each case, and only the spring=loaded holder was re-used, then I suspect the risk of cross infection was nearly zero, as only the pointy bit of the lancet actually pierces the skin.

Mr Thomas T Hilliar
Guest
4 months 12 days ago
Another idiotic scare mongering mass media schpeil about nothing. How stupid really! How is this a bungle? At every single General Practice I’ve seen use have a BGL glucometer, with a lancet that you use and dispose of after each use with each patient. Then you use a glucometer stick for the blood and put it in the machine. Then you throw it out. Sounds like exactly what they did. Yes the GP/nurse cleans down the device from time to time. But we don’t sterilise it. Sounds like the only risk here was similar to a shared accommodation environment sharing… Read more »
Kate
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Kate
4 months 12 days ago

I don’t understand how the device was a risk. With the ones I’ve seen there is no way for cross contamination to occur.

Peter Bradley
Member
Peter Bradley
4 months 11 days ago
Kate and Thomas, you are both right. It is a purely theoretical risk, because if you pricked someone with a highly infectious virus, and got some blood on your fingers in removing the lancet from the spring-loaded devise the fires it into the skin, then theoretically touched the same bloody glove or finger to the needle of the new lancet and pricked someone else they might get infected. I don’t think the glucometer the strip is placed in to read the level is the cause of the concern Thomas, as that is only accessed after the prick has been made,… Read more »
chee leong khoo
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chee leong khoo
4 months 7 days ago

Guys, I am afraid using a single use device on more than one patient is an infection risk. No, changing just the lancet is not good enough. The risk is low but not an avoidable zero. This is a sue-able offence.

Not acceptable practice. It’s almost like the the old days of multi dose local anaesthestics using the same needle but different syringe for different patient. This is not scare mongering.

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