Back To Top

Syringe reuse at hospitals down following babies' deaths

The practice of reusing disposable syringes at South Korean hospitals has decreased following the deaths of four newborns at a Seoul hospital late last year, a survey showed Wednesday.

In December, the four infants died while being treated in the intensive care unit at Ewha Womans University Hospital in Seoul.

Forensic results confirmed that their deaths were all caused by a single type of bacteria that can be fatal when injected nutrients are contaminated in the injection process.


Police concluded that the hospital's neonatal intensive care unit violated anti-infection guidelines that have required that a vial of medication be assigned to a single patient since 1993, when the hospital was established.

According to the survey by the Korean Society of Neonatology, the rate of using the same syringe to inject nutrients from a vial into more than two babies dropped from 44.2 percent to 3.9 percent following the incident.

The rate of using a medication vial for a single patient, meanwhile, increased from 35.1 percent to 42.9 percent, the survey showed.

The Ministry of Food and Drug Safety, meanwhile, said it has reported for the record that the SMOFLIPID nutritional supplements have been linked to the deaths of the four babies.

SMOFLIPID was earlier found by the US Food and Drug Administration to pose a threat to the health of premature babies. An FDA document outlined that autopsies carried out on infants given the supplements showed vascular fat accumulation in the veins inside the lungs.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said health care providers should never reuse a needle or syringe either from one patient to another or to withdraw medicine from a vial, adding that it is not safe to change the needle and reuse the syringe as the practice can transmit disease. (Yonhap)