If multi-dose vials must be used for more than one patient, they should not be kept or accessed in the immediate patient treatment area. This is to prevent inadvertent contamination of the vial through direct or indirect contact with potentially contaminated surfaces or equipment that could then lead to infections in subsequent patients. If a multi-dose vial enters the immediate patient treatment area, it should be dedicated to that patient only and discarded after use. Examples of the immediate patient treatment area include patient rooms or bays, and operating rooms. Medication vials should always be discarded whenever sterility is compromised or questionable.
In addition, the United States Pharmacopeia (USP) recommends the following for multi-dose vials of sterile pharmaceuticals:
If a multi-dose has been opened or accessed (e.g., needle-punctured) the vial should be dated and discarded within 28 days unless the manufacturer specifies a different (shorter or longer) date for that opened vial.
If a multi-dose vial has not been opened or accessed (e.g., needle-punctured), it should be discarded according to the manufacturer’s expiration date.