What’s wrong with this picture?

Last week, I posted this picture on Twitter and Facebook and asked viewers to post what they think is going on.

Syringe pics

Colleagues on Twitter:

  • A bunch of contaminated syringes. Maybe someone is syringe feeding kittens with these? I can see no other purpose.
  • ? Re use of syringes
  • non sterile syringes :key parts contaminated ,patients put at risk !!!
  • ooh…

Colleagues on Facebook:

  • Have no idea but it can’t be good.
  • Recycling?
  • Contamination
  •  Is that a supply bin on a shelf?!?
  •  It looks like someone thinks they can be re-used??
  • Bulk packaging for pharmacy use? In a non-pharmacy area?
  • Education material
  • Those better be under a hood…
  •  Ohhhh, I’m so looking forward to Cora’s reveal!!!

Okay, so here’s the truth about this picture.

The setting: High volume,  extremely busy outpatient clinic.

The scenario: The RNs were preparing for another busy day and to save time, they take the 3mL syringes out of the protective sterile packaging into this bin. The bin is stored in a cabinet and they would take a syringe or two from the bin as needed. If there are leftover syringes from the day, they are stored overnight in this bin. This is their morning routine every working day for as long as they can remember.

What’s wrong with this scenario:  You all know what’s wrong with this picture now that you’ve read the scenario. I don’t really need to explain much – many of you posted- contaminated!!! While these syringes have never been used, they are contaminated. Sadly, what I can’t explain is why none of the RNs even realized that by removing the sterile syringes out of the package into this bin, they are now contaminated and not suitable for patient use.

Learning opportunity:  In a very busy clinical setting, sometimes there are actions taken by nurses, most often for the sake of efficiency, not knowing it may have negative results or may compromise patient safety.  It doesnt take or save that much time to open a package to remove a sterile syringe during a procedure or when needed, but the risk to the patient when using a contaminated syringe is greater. The nurses didn’t even think about the effects of their actions, they just did what they know as their morning routine to prep for a busy patient care day.  It doesn’t give anyone a sense of comfort though when it took a lot of time and explanation to convince the nurses that syringes stay sterile in their packaging unless torn or seal is broken. (not joking)

Imagine what it would be like if one of the syringes from that bin or a leftover syringe from the day before is used on you or your loved ones?

Many thanks and appreciation to my Twitter and Facebook colleagues for the replies!