Saturday, September 12, 2015

Why We Should Ask Questions and Rethink Practices.



             Here on the farm, I give all the injections on livestock.  Alpacas require very regular injections in order to avoid meningeal worm which is easily contracted indirectly from the white tailed deer. Horses require regular injections to prevent Potomac Horse fever, and annual immunizations. Sheep also receive periodic immunizations here. I also give some dog and cat immunizations, but I leave dog and cat rabies injections to the veterinarians because this is the law in our state.

                Most of the time, farmers buy fairly inexpensive disposable syringes for animals that are made of plastics that are not approved for human use.  Since I have limited storage space and can't really stock syringes for animals and syringes for people, I tend for a bit more, to stock sterile syringes that could be used for people, and then most of the time they are used for animals. This way, if a physician ever orders an injectable medication for a human being,  as a registered nurse,I already have the correct syringe. (I also stock the tuberculin variety.)

                This week something came up that I thought I would share with you.  I used to do something that most farms do.  On Friday afternoon I would draw up all the alpaca injections I would need, bag and label them, and then administer them in Saturday mornings bright light when I have all hands on deck.  I stopped doing this, because although it is an acceptable practice, I wondered whether drugs which are drawn one day when kept overnight would leach  rubberized chemicals from the stopper  into the med, and result in the animals getting additional undesirable chemicals. I decided just not to take the chance.  Now I draw the meds up and give them immediately, even though it might be faster to draw them up and administer the following day.

               It seems I was not the only one concerned about this.  Late this week the FDA has expanded a warning on Becton Dickinson syringes.   Their concern is a bit different from mine. The FDA believes that this particular brand of syringes allows predrawn or compounded meds (prepared for humans) to be rendered less effective because when predrawn, some of the med in leaching into the rubber stoppe, potentially altering dose.This is very interesting, because a lot of medications come pre-drawn waiting for a nurse to attach a needle and administer.  I doubt the issue is completely confined to Becton Dickinson because they have been producers of reliable syringes and products for many many years.

              So, what is my message for you ?    If you are a farmer, don't draw up immunizations or meds in advance of administration.  Draw them, then administer them, and the leaching issue will not be a problem. Livestock are expensive and they deserve our best efforts whether you do, or do not use them as meat, or to produce milk for your family.   Secondly, ask questions.   Note whether your flu shot is already drawn up or whether it is being drawn prior to administration.  All the simple things we do, including the use of plastic cookware make a difference in the long term, to our health.  We just don't always notice, or the study may not yet have been completed.

More information on the FDA's expanded warning: