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Needlestick Safety Challenges Continue

Tami Swartz, April 2, 2013

Safe in Common presented an online conference in November 2012 called "The Unfinished Agenda" to address the issue of sharps safety. The event featured live discussion as well as prerecorded interviews and videos with student nurses, key opinion leaders, and healthcare workers from across the United States. The event fielded more than 200 questions from healthcare workers from 15 countries. Although the panelists were able to weigh in on many of the questions, the majority are answered by the experts on Safe in Common's website.

Nearly 78% of the 1,000 who attended the online conference believe that needlestick injuries have not been eliminated in their workplaces. According to more than half of conference attendees (55%), the answer to protecting healthcare personnel from sharps injuries lies in safer engineering controls (i.e., safer medical devices). The other responses were "stronger enforcement of frontline worker input in device selection" (21.5%), "stronger OSHA enforcement of 2000 Needlestick Act" (12.9%), "Inclusion of healthcare worker injury rates in reimbursement metrics" (7.2%), and "standardized national reporting to a central database" (5.3%).

"I think we can safely say that the injury challenges of the '80s and '90s continue today, and the poll we conducted certainly confirms that," Foley said during the conference, adding that many of the safer needle devices used today were developed before the Needlestick Safety and Prevention Act in 2000.

"Innovation of and demand for safer products is stagnated," said Foley.

In addition to medical device enhancement, Foley said there are other areas in need of improvement that are more cultural and educational based.

"As Safe in Common has established in its first year, the issues of needlestick and sharps safety persist. There are serious concerns in the surgical arena, nonhospital settings, and in special populations," said Foley. "We have also heard that students are not adequately prepared to address their own safety when presented with equipment. They are not advised on why safety is an issue [and] how to use the equipment safely, and are discouraged from reporting injuries when they occur. That is unacceptable and demands a national response."

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1 comments on "Needlestick Safety Challenges Continue"


Sue G (4/4/2013 at 11:45 AM)
I do not agree with having staff injuries related to facility reimbursement. I think that would discourage employee reporting of injuries.