Once every year or so, flagrant disregard for important safety guidelines make the headlines. It almost certainly happens more than that, but there’s a certain discomfort about reporting fellow healthcare workers (especially because in many cases, it’s tied to a personal issue like addiction, adding a level of discomfort at calling the problem out).
In the most recent headline, a NJ nurse reused a syringe (not the needles) during a workplace flu shot clinic. People who attended the clinic are now at risk for Hep C, Hep B, and HIV, as well as MRSA and other virulent diseases.
Of course, the risk level depends on if anyone else already had one of those diseases, and how active those infections were (except for MRSA, which can exist on your skin among your bacteria colonies there). The business getting the flu shot clinic was a pharmaceutical company—so good odds IF anyone was sick it was well managed.
So, there’s Hep C, which is so super virulent, it only takes 1 or 2 viruses (verses tens to a more usual hundreds of viruses) to spread, and which can be spread very indirectly. In studies on drug users, HIV was easily stopped by offering needle exchange programs. But Hep C? It could be spread by the needle touching a shared spoon, or by sharing other tools. HIV doesn’t actually live that long outside of the body (despite chain emails you may have read), but Hep C can live for weeks.
What’s even worse about these outbreaks, is that it can take up to 6 months for Hep C to show up on a test, leaving you in suspense. (Looking at the glass half full, it’s also possible that in those 6 months a strong immune system can kill the Hep C, preventing a chronic infection).
As far as MRSA, there have been past outbreaks tied to shared vials but not needles. For this outbreak, that’s what I’d be concerned about, even though that’s not what’s being talked about. Antibiotic use contributes to MRSA growth, so while having access to excellent health care probably does make the risk of chronic illnesses lower, the risk of MRSA might actually be much, much higher.
How to protect yourself from being one of the tens of thousands who are yearly exposed to this sort of nonsense? Be an active patient.
-Avoid being rushed out of a doctor’s office with a slip for antibiotics, which are often given for viral infections (or even fungal infections), like sinusitis.
-Take/or eat lots of probiotics. Besides the benefits to your gastrointestinal flora, taking enough also helps your skin flora (which, as mentioned above, can harbor MRSA).
-Watch your doctor/nurse, and don’t be afraid to hold them accountable—a good one won’t be offended. Hand washing, throwing things into the biohazard bin, and other cleaning should be apparent at every visit. (Very much so during the busy winter months—you should see/hear people going in and out of rooms cleaning, wiping door knobs, and more).
-And of course, take care of your own health. Exercising, eating right, sleeping enough, and even supporting your immune system with quality supplements like MesoSilver can give you an important edge against the unforeseen.
Thoughts? We want to hear them in the comments!: