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IV Catheter Risks to Nurses Frequent, Unreported

Alexandra Wilson Pecci, for HealthLeaders Media, March 13, 2012

"We just don't talk about removal and the possibility of blood exposure then," she tells HealthLeaders.

She also highlights the finding that eye exposure was among the most frequent types of exposures, so wearing protective eyewear should become standard practice, during both insertion and removal.

"You don't need a large quantity to be an at-risk blood exposure. If one drop of blood goes into the eye that's a serious exposure," she says. "The quantities of blood are small but if you hit the right target, the risk is very real."

Whenever I read a study like this one, I not only want to hear about the findings; I also wonder how nurse leaders can use the information to make their departments safer.

Co-author Jane Perry, MA, associate director of the International Healthcare Workers Safety Center at UVA, weighs in via email:

HLM: What should nurse leaders do with this information?

Perry: They should make sure they are aware of the on-the-ground realities for nurses performing this procedure in their facility on a daily basis. Are there issues or problems they encounter? Any specific issues with the devices used for this procedure? Are there ways to minimize or eliminate such issues?

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