Multiple-dose vials: Persistence of bacterial contaminants and infection control implications

R. N. Longfield, L. P. Smith, J. N. Longfield, J. Coberly, D. Cruess

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Due to sporadic infections attributed to contaminated multiple-dose medication vials (MDV), some authorities have suggested discarding all MDV within 24 hours. We inoculated 11 commonly used medications with suspensions of 10 bacterial species previously associated with contaminated parenteral solutions and determined microbial persistence at both room and refrigerator temperature. At 22°C, atropine, curare, folic acid, NPH insulin and triamcinolone did not allow microbial persistence beyond 4 hours. Lidocaine and heparin were sterile by 24 hours. Regular insulin, immune serum globulin, and myochrysine allowed persistence for up to 7 days. At 4°C, bacterial persistence was significantly prolonged for all medications including those MDV requiring refrigeration. No organisms proliferated; however, F. meningosepticum and P. maltophilia were particularly persistent at both temperatures. The risk of persistent MDV contamination appears to be dependent upon specific pharmaceutical, microbe and storage temperature interactions. Recommendations for the refrigerations of MDV medications may require reevaluation on a product-by-product basis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)194-199
Number of pages6
JournalInfection Control
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1985


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