Blood Lancing Devices May Transmit Blood-Borne Viruses

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture
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Health Canada is advising Canadians who use blood lancing devices not to use devices meant for personal use in more than one person due to the risk of transmitting blood-borne viruses, such as hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV.

Lancing devices, also known as blood-sampling devices, are hand-held instruments used for pricking the skin with a quick-action fine needle to obtain a sample of blood for testing. They are used by patients and health care professionals, usually for monitoring blood sugar levels in diabetics.

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Blood lancing devices are either reusable or they must be discarded after one use. Some reusable devices are for use in one patient only (personal use), while others can be used in multiple patients. Product labelling and directions for use should be read carefully to determine the type and intended use of any particular device.

Reusable devices meant for personal use should not be used on more than one person. There have been several reports in Canada and internationally of personal-use devices being used by heath care workers to obtain blood samples from more than one patient, and by individuals sharing their devices with others. Sharing devices designed for personal use carries a risk of transmitting blood-borne viruses from one person to another. Replacing the needle alone does not eliminate this risk because other parts of the device can also come in contact with blood and can transmit infection.

Single-use lancing devices should not be reused. For devices that can be reused in multiple patients, which are generally used in health-care settings such as hospitals or nursing homes, careful attention must be paid to the manufacturer's cleaning and disinfecting directions, including which components of the device must be replaced between uses.

If you have questions after reviewing the product labelling about the precautions to be followed when handling these products, contact the manufacturer or speak with your pharmacist or physician.

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