Alcohol swab recall

I went to 3 different pharmacies and couldn't find any alcohol swabs yesterday. Turns out they've been recalled. (Although I'm not sure why brand names like BD are gone too?)

I'm a little worried about injecting w/o alcohol, so I hope this gets worked out soon!

I heard gin works just fine.

I don't use the swabs/IV Prep things before changing my sites...I'm still alive. I wouldn't worry about it

Microbial contamination? On an alcohol swab? Doesn't that seem like an oxy moron? I worked in the infection control dept of a medical device company, some of the ways germs can survive on germ-killing products is just amazing

I normally use good ole fashion soap and water. You should be fine.

Thanks for the heads up Sarah!

While we rarely did wipes before injections, I always wipe my son's new site area off before inserting. (I use IV prep too for that). You could use hand sanitizer to wipe off an area if you really want it clean.

I'm guessing that the BD wipes are sold out and that there is a back order for them at pharmacies. If hospitals had to quickly find an alternate supplier for their TRIAD wipes, then they'd go to BD, which in turn will probably fill the hospital orders before it fills replacement orders for OTC purchase. Since this was issued about a week ago, the pharmacy shelves would have only had BD stock and would more quickly sell out of those than normal since there is no other option for customers and then there is nothing to restock with because BD can't keep up with their regular shipments PLUS all the new orders that are normally filled by a competitor. Again, that is just a guess, but having worked on product quality issues for product that couldn't ship, it is amazing how fast the ripples of one snafu in the supply chain affects everything.

The recall went into effect several days ago, so I think the BD ones are gone as that is what many pharmacies are/were offering to customers who were bringing in recalled swabs for refunds. The pharmacies have simply sold out of BD swabs.

BD are NOT affected by the recall.


Also note that a lot of the information online says that its 100 count boxes that are affected.  I have a 120 count box from Walgreens.  I called Walgreens customer service and they confirmed that these are also on the recall list.  So it's NOT just 100 count boxes.

well this explains why I went to two pharmacies and neither of them had ANY alcohol swabs! I was pretty baffled as to how they would be sold out of them but now it makes sense..thanks for the info!


A little FYI about needing to clean with alcohol before injections: the way we use swabs for injections these days doesn't really kill the majority of germs.

It's more of a mental thing.  It also acts as a drying agent, which is helpful in the summer for sweaty skin.  To properly clean an injection site you'd have to rub it on there for much longer than almost everyone does.

Shocked me when I found out b/c I grew up thinking you HAVE to swab before injecting, but this is straight from MD/PhD's mouths.  I hardly ever use an alcohol swab before injecting now and haven't ever run into any infection problems.

So...inject away.  Don't let this recall business mess up your game.

That's good to know that others don't bother to clean the site. I guess I never thought to ask if I still had too after I started doing it at diagnosis in 1982. (:

I did finally find 2 boxes of BD swabs at a 4th pharmacy. I like to have them to wipe up blood after I test or in case I bleed after injecting. But, it sounds like tissues would be ok too...

I once got a huge abscess / infection on my leg in high school at an injection site. I'm wondering if it was the actual needle that was dirty, like I'd accidentally touched it or something?

[quote user="Ideen"]

A little FYI about needing to clean with alcohol before injections: the way we use swabs for injections these days doesn't really kill the majority of germs.

It's more of a mental thing.  It also acts as a drying agent, which is helpful in the summer for sweaty skin.  To properly clean an injection site you'd have to rub it on there for much longer than almost everyone does.[/quote]

OK, I'm kind of OCD about germs, so I'm not sure which is scarier: that Bacillus cereus bacteria, or this...

I hesitate to ask, how long would you have to rub with alcohol for it to actually be effective?  I'm more concerned about finger pricks than injection sites; I live in New York City and typically when I have to hold onto the railing on a subway, I am counting the minutes until I get to home/work and can wash my hands.  But, if I'm going somewhere where the bathroom appears even more disgusting than the subway, I rely on the alcohol swabs when testing.

But, actually, Bacillus cereus sounds pretty scary, too.  Especially since I'm currently using Triad alcohol swabs.  I'm going to go rummage through various stashes to see if I have an BD swabs leftover from a previous box...

So here's a scary one - I took my son to his 3 mo. check-up yesterday. We were a little early, so the nurse asked if she could just do his A1C check (the finger poke kind) just out in the lobby. So she goes to get the stuff and I got J's lancing device out and a  BD alcohol wipe. She came back just as I finished cleaning his finger and said, "Oh - here put this wipe in your case, since you used your own." It was a Triad wipe. I informed her they had been recalled and she and the other nurse had no idea. They said they would call the hospital dept, but that usually the materials management for the hospital would tell them about recalls. I did not take the wipe and was glad I said something. 

We use these wipes in our hospital and there have been signs all over the hospital about how if you see those swabs somewhere to not use them, and they've switched to a different swab company in the mean time.  So the info is definitely out there.  Doctor's offices are a little different b/c they operate on a more private level even if they're inside a hospital so I don't know what kind of heads up they get.

I have worked at Triad.  BD swabs are manufactured at Triad too .  Saves money. Pharmaceutical companies/hospitals irrespective of the lots, should test all the lots manufactured by Triad in their possession for microbial contamination.  Its their responsibility. All will fail.  They may also find some unknown bugs too.

Besides, BD swabs being in big demand, BD swabs are also manufactured by Triad.

FDA says TRIAD used proper procedure for recalling TRIAD products, but does not explain if TRIAD used proper manufacturing procedures or microbial quality tests.  All lots must have been contaminated all along.  FDA needs to check the reserved samples of the questionable lotd and other lots for contamination.

Alcohol swab is medical device!!

I stopped using alcohol on my fingers and injection sites years ago, although I try to wash my hands before a blood test. I have a pump now, and I use the IV prep wipes, but not b/c I am scared of infection, more that I think they help it stick better. I put Neosporin on my infusion site after I pull one out to switch them, but that is because I can see an actual little hole in my skin, and I don't want it to scar. I am also a microbiologist, I work with bacteria all day long, and I have never gotten an infection from a finger stick.

Really, washing your hands with warm soap and water for 30 seconds is way more effective than a quick swipe with an alcohol pad. But in general, people are way to lazy, myself included, to wash our hands that long.

On occasion, I've used antibacterial hand wipes.  They might not be as good at killing germs, but there's actually been a study that shows you're doing yourself more of a favor by having CLEAN SKIN in general, compared to just rubbing a little alcohol onto your skin.  (The study I read about was done in an unindustrialized country that I can't recall, but they had some people shower every morning and not use alcohol, and some people shower less frequently and USE alcohol.  The more frequent showers had fewer infections depsite not using alcohol.)

So when I do that, I just make an effort at CLEANING the area.  I don't sweep it across a couple times and let it dry, I kind of "scrub" the area a little before I let it dry.

[quote user="Megan519"]

I stopped using alcohol on my fingers and injection sites years ago, although I try to wash my hands before a blood test.


I'll be honest, I'd never test if I had to wash my hands first! I'd say 25% of my tests are in the car, waiting in line, etc, etc.... But, I am an over-user of purell...

I'm so with you guys on the whole alcohol before testing thing.  MY CDE who tought me everything when I was diagnosed in May said to wash your hands instead whenever you can anyway.  Though most of the time, I don't wash my hands.  The lick-and-wipe is my more likely method if I'm int he car or soemthing!  I keep a couple swabs in my testing kit in case I'm testing while out of the house and my hands really are dirty or I've handled food, but I use them, oh, maybe once a month?

When my mom, whio is an RN, discovered I wasn't washing my hands, she really really really tried to convince me I had to clean my finger with either soapy water or an alcohol swab first every single time.  And I was like, OK, by the text book, I'm sure you're totally right.  But we're talking about something I have to multiple tiems a day, often when I have very little time or have to focus on something else (like driving, maybe).  If I spend the time and effort to really clean my finger every single time, I won't test.

I've definitely discovered that she has some really valuable knowledge and ideas as an experienced nurse, but also that she thinks from a hospital perspective rather than a daily life perspective.  Another example is that she was really worried about the fact that the CDE's told me to bolus before eating.  She kept bringing up reasons why I should bolus after eating, and stated often, "We would never give a patient insulin in the hospital until we know exactly how many carbs you ate!"  That makes total sense in a  hospital.  The food is crappy, the patient might feel crappy, and there's just a higher likelihood that you're not going to eat everything you think you're going to.  But in everyday life, I'm pretty successful at judging how much food I'll eat, and I've never been unable to finish what I planned on in the rare occasions that I filled up sooner than expected.  So except for a couple times when I actually didn't feel good and wasn't sure I'd be able to eat or keep it down, I bolus before (even 20 minutes before) and see smaller spikes on my Dexcom.

That's just it.  The textbooks may be "right," but that doesn't mean it's what works best in your life.