Topical Application of Chlorhexidine and Risks of Accidental Injection

Megan Reilly

The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care (the Commission) and the Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists (ANZCA) have developed a joint safety statement in response to reported incidents of accidental injection of chlorhexidine, a surface disinfectant.

The Commission’s Inter-Jurisdictional Committee considered the safety statement, and supported the recommendation to publish the statement on the Commission’s website. The safety statement can be found at this link.

This safety statement was developed in response to reported incidents of accidental injection of chlorhexidine.

The statement includes recommendations consistent with the National standard for user-applied labeling of injectable medicines, fluids and lines and ANZCA’s PS51 Guidelines for the Safe Management and Use of Medications in Anaesthesia. It recommends the use of dark-tinted chlorhexidine for skin preparation, as light-tinted chlorhexidine increases the risk of errors.