National Alert Network Warns Providers of Improper Glacial Acetic Acid Use

The National Alert Network issued an alert warning healthcare providers of multiple cases of improper application of "glacial" acetic acid (≥ 99.5 percent) to skin or mucous membranes.

The alert is based on data from the Institute for Safe Medication Practices' National Medication Error Reporting Program. According to the alert, there have been repeated cases of applying glacial acetic acid instead of a more diluted form. Improper application of glacial acetic acid can lead to severe burns, scarring and other permanent damage to skin or mucous membranes, according to the alert.

A common factor in the cases of accidental application of glacial acetic acid is staff unfamiliarity with the term "glacial," resulting in incorrect orders and application, NAN wrote. The alert states, "Glacial acetic acid has no use in its current form in clinical medicine."

The report includes several recommendations to prevent harm from inappropriate use of glacial acetic acid:

1. Remove from stock. NAN recommends using vinegar (5% solution) or commercially available diluted acetic acid 0.25% (for irrigation) or 2% (for otic use) in place of glacial acetic acid.
2. Restrict purchasing.
3. Restrict choices when purchasing.
4. Ensure correct strength is ordered.
5. Educate staff.
6. Order 5% as "vinegar."
7. Verify product.

More Articles on Medication Safety:

FDA Publishes Drug Safety Label Changes in December 2012
Study: Less Than 2.5% of Medication Errors Are Reported to Patients

Study: 37% of Physicians Give in to Patients' Demands for Brand-Name Drugs

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