Dirty Needles?

Traveling in under developed countries poses some unique challenges. What if I get cut and need stitches? What if I have a dental emergency? Get diarrhea so bad I need IV rehydration? Will they have properly sterilized equipment?

You can purchase syringe and suture kits to take with you. These are not do it yourself kits. They are to be given to a trained health care provider to use on you in such emergencies.

Typically, these kits contain needles, suture materials, IV catheters, gloves and antiviral and antibacterial wipes to close wounds and start IV’s. They can be used to administer anesthetics for emergency dental procedures, too.

To help with going through customs,  get a note from your travel clinic provider that states that these items are being used for personal use only. One kit from Adventure Medical Kits has declaratory statements about use printed on the outside in 8 different languages.

Many travel clinics, including Travel Health of New Hampshire, have these kits available for purchase. Hopefully you will never need to use such a kit,  but in countries where blood borne diseases such as HIV and hepatitis are common, it is reassuring to know that if you the equipment used on you is definitely sterile.


Give a better shot.

What do most adult patient’s fear almost more than anything else? Shots. Why do patient’s come up with so many excuses not to get vaccinated? Fear of shots. Why do lots of adults (and health care providers) avoid the flu vaccine every year? Yup, afraid of shots. Why don’t more people take advantage of travel health clinics? Because they are worried about the shots.
So, how can you change this? Give a better shot. I’ve been giving shots for over 30 years and I give over 1,000 flu shots alone every year. Here’s my thought on this or what I like to call…
Nancy’s Needle Tips
Like any procedure, first learn the technique, and then perfect it. But don’t stop there. Now learn how to do it quickly and efficiently without sacrificing the quality. Speed is good.
If you don’t feel comfortable giving an injection, you will project that to the patient. If you need help, seek out a mentor, practice and perfect your skills and build your confidence.
Don’t aspirate. If you learned how to give an injection more than a few years ago, this may sound like heresy. According to the CDC, it is not necessary to aspirate when giving an injection. It makes the task harder, takes longer and hurts more.
Don’t linger. Draw up all injections at once, away from the patient’s view. Keep the needle discreetly out of view and tell the patient right before the procedure what you are going to do. Ask them to hang their arm down and make it loose and then just do it. Have the patient apply pressure or rub it.
You don’t need gloves for an injection. It takes more time to put them on.
Distract them. I call this “vocal anesthesia”. Don’t discuss how everyone hates shots. Don’t even talk about shots. Ask about work, school, their kids, and their trip.
Offer an ice pack. I keep Boo Boo Kitty, my ice pack, in my refrigerator. (Yes, for the adults). I like to keep an assortment of specialty band aids for them to choose. I think Dora the Explorer is nice for the travel clinic.
And last, but not least, I praise the patient. I tell them they did a good job and that I know how hard that was for them to get that shot/s. All of these techniques help make getting a shot a little more pleasant this time and helps set the stage for the next one.