Hospitals Debate Safety of Non-Sterile Wipes

A second recall of large amounts of potentially contaminated alcohol swabs is leading some infection experts to recommend that all non-sterile pads and wipes be removed from hospital settings. Nearly 300 million individual non-sterile alcohol prep products were recalled by Pacific Disposables International Inc. of Orangeburg, NY last month.

The PDI recall follows an even more massive recall of hundreds of millions alcohol and iodine wipes and pads made and sold by the Triad Group and H&P Industries, Inc. of Hartland, Wis. Federal officials shut down both firms after bacillus cereus bacteria was found in the tainted products.

The FDA cautioned health care providers earlier this year to be careful about using non-sterile pads in patients with depressed immune systems, before catheter injections or before surgery. The agency also warned that pads packed in kits with injectable drugs may not be sterile. While some hospitals have taken matters into their own hands and switched to sterile prep pads, others are waiting to see if a formal change of policy impacts the legality of using the products.

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