Safe Injection Practices and Your Health

Key points

  • Most healthcare providers follow safe injection practices. Though uncommon, unsafe medical injections sometimes occur.
  • Understanding safe injection practices can protect you from harm.
  • The reuse of needles or syringes and the misuse of medication vials are unsafe injection practices.


Safe injection practices are actions healthcare providers should follow when performing medical injections. A safe injection does not harm the recipient or expose the healthcare provider to avoidable risks.

Healthcare providers should never reuse a needle or syringe on more than one patient. Providers must discard both needles and syringes once used. Reusing the needle and/or syringe is unsafe and can spread disease.

For example, unsafe injection practices can occur during:

  • Administration of anesthetics (drugs to decrease the feeling of pain or eliminate it by putting you to sleep) for outpatient surgical, diagnostic and pain management procedures.
  • Administration of intravenous (IV) medications for chemotherapy, cosmetic procedures and alternative medicine therapies.
  • Use of saline to flush IV lines and catheters.
  • Administration of vaccines.

Why it is important

Unsafe injection practices can be a serious threat to your health.

Unsafe injections can spread diseases like hepatitis C, hepatitis B, bacterial and fungal diseases, and possiblyHIV if injection equipment, like needles or syringes, is reused on more than one patient or to access vials that are shared between patients.

Most healthcare providers follow safe injection practices. Though not common, unsafe injection practices sometimes occur. When unsafe injection practices occur, providers should notify possibly affected patients and inform them to get tested.

To learn more about safe injection practices, talk to your healthcare provider.

Terms to know

A syringe is an instrument used to inject fluids into the body or draw them from the body. Healthcare providers should only use a syringe once, then discard it.

A needle is a sharp pointed object used for injection or removal of fluid from the body. Healthcare providers should only use a needle once, then discard it.

A single-dose vial is a bottle of liquid medication healthcare providers give to a patient using a needle and syringe. A single-dose vial is approved for use on a single patient for a single procedure or injection.

A multi-dose vial is a bottle of liquid medication that contains more than one dose of medication and is recognized by its FDA-approved label. Healthcare providers use multi-dose vials to deliver a variety of medications and vaccines. If handled safely, they can be accessed for more than one patient. Healthcare providers should always use a new needle and syringe when accessing the contents of a multi-dose vial. Reuse of needles or syringes can contaminate medicine with germs, which can spread to others.