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What are we injecting with our drugs?

Auckland, New Zealand and Melbourne, Australia

Summary

In preparation for a case, an anaesthetist opened a 20 ml glass vial of propofol and aspirated the propofol into a syringe via a blunt drawing-up needle. Increased resistance was felt with aspiration. On inspection, a shard of glass was found at the tip of the drawing-up needle. The shard was presumed to be from the propofol ampoule, and to have fallen into the solution upon snapping open its glass tip. This illustrative case raises the issue of contamination of drugs by particles introduced during the drawing-up process. It also highlights the possibility that during the drawing-up process, intravenous drugs may become contaminated not just with particles, but with microorganisms on the surface of the particles. In this article, we discuss relevant recent research of the implications of this type of drug contamination. We draw attention to the need for meticulous care in drawing up and administering intravenous drugs during anaesthesia, particularly propofol.

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