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People being tested after contaminated needles distributed

Réseau ACCESS Network says a lapse in infectious disease protocols led to some used needles being mixed with unused and distributed

Approximately 40 people have been affected by an infection prevention and control (IPAC) lapse, said the Réseau ACCESS Network in a Jan. 26 release. 

An infection prevention and control (IPAC) lapse occurs when there is deviation from IPAC best practices resulting in possible infectious disease.

The Réseau ACCESS Network distributes harm reduction supplies to people who use drugs, and discovered the risk of exposure when a staff member found new and used equipment in a labelled, clear container of individual, single-use needles in the harm reduction room. The risk of potential exposure is limited to people who requested an individual needle. There is no risk to people who accessed full packages or other supplies.

“Approximately 40 people have been affected by this IPAC lapse”, said Heidi Eisenhauer, Executive Director at Réseau ACCESS Network. “The Agency has taken immediate action to inform anyone who has potentially been exposed hepatitis C virus, hepatitis B virus, and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and to encourage testing and offer support to anyone who may need it.” 

Réseau ACCESS Network has offered testing to all people concerned, provided guidance to minimize risks of transmitting an infection to others while people wait for their results, and offered to help with connecting people to treatment options should they test positive for any of the three infections. 

“Member safety and well-being is our top priority”, said Eisenhauer. “The practice of distributing individual needles has been discontinued until the Agency can obtain individually packaged needles.”

To prevent this kind of IPAC lapse from happening in the future the Agency has halted the distribution of individual needles until sterile, pre-packaged individual needles are available. Additionally, the Agency, in collaboration with Public Health Sudbury & District, will be conducting a thorough investigation. Réseau ACCESS Network has reviewed best practices with all staff members.

This is a developing story. will report new information as it becomes available.


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