Market share and legislation reduce needlesticks

By: December 30th, 2008 Email This Post Print This Post

It appears that years of advocacy by needlestick prevention experts, good ol’ capitalism, and, yes, a little bit of heavy-handed regulation by the government, has made it safer in protecting healthcare workers from contracting life-altering or even life-threatening infections such as HIV, HBV, or HCV.

A study by the University of Virginia International Healthcare Worker Safety Center and published in the December 2008, Journal of Infection and Public Health, found that needlestick injury rates from 1993 to 2004 declined 34% among all healthcare workers and 51% among nurses, who handle needles most frequently in healthcare settings.

The improvement occurred only after safety-engineered technology became predominant in the marketplace (see table below) as a result of U.S. needlestick prevention legislation, according to the study.

Despite the good news, the study raises a cautionary note. Although compliance with the requirement to use safety devices has been high in hospital settings, adoption levels of these devices in nonhospital settings such as clinics, private doctors’ and dentists’ offices, long-term care facilities, and freestanding laboratories are not as good, 25%–35% below hospitals.

With nonhospital settings accounting for approximately 60% of the healthcare work force in the United States, there is still room for improvement, the study concludes.

How would you rate your facility in adopting needle and sharps safety technology?

Click here to take our short compliance poll or let us know about some of your concerns in the comment section below.

Also on the Tools page of this website is a free downloadable Safety Needles and Sharps Checklist adapted from the University of Virginia International Healthcare Worker Safety Center and appearing in the November Medical Environment Update. Use it to comply with OSHA’s regulation for safety sharp technology.

Source: University of Virginia International Healthcare Worker Safety Center


By Brian Rogers, RN, ICP on January 27th, 2009 at 7:17 pm

I heard a rumor that we are no longer able to use the 2 gallon sharps container with the large lid. Is this correct? Could you please point me in the right direction on what are the new regulations on sharps containers? Thank you

By David LaHoda on January 27th, 2009 at 7:42 pm

I am not aware any new sharps container regulation changes prohibiting the size the container you mentioned. The most recent OSHA interpretation on sharps containers addressed the requirement to maintain them in a upright position. That requirement has been around since the promulgation of the bloodborne pathogen standard.

As for OSHA rumors, the best way to confirm it or nip it in the bud is to ask “rumormonger” for proof on the spot, or at least some indication of the source. As I explained in Don’t fall for all red flags, OSHA usually leaves a paper trail on such changes.

By Rachel Davis Bohs on January 29th, 2009 at 9:46 pm

What benchmark do you recommend infection control/safety programs use for Bloodborne pathogen Exposures?

There are many mixed messages out there–many denominators to choose from and many benchmarks with old data. We are presently using number of exposures divided by patient days x 1000 to look at our rates from year to year, but presently don’t have a benchmark or comparative rate. Was wondering what others are using? or what you refer to? Thanks, Rachel

By David LaHoda on January 29th, 2009 at 10:45 pm

The updated CDC Workbook for designing, implementing, and evaluating a sharps injury prevention program addresses benchmarking but does not provide data: “Benchmarking provides a way for hospitals to measure performance against a pre-determined goal. At the present time there is limited information for sharps injury benchmarking. Data provided by NaSH and others reflects the distribution of sharps injuries by factors such as occupation, device, and procedure, allowing hospitals to note areas where their experience differs. Data are not intended to set a mark, or acceptable level of sharps injuries. More important than measuring performance against other hospitals or national data is comparing data within one facility or group of facilities over time. In this process, identifying significant differences in the data as well as changes in work practice, engineering controls, patient population and volume as well as staffing may help to evaluate the impact of various changes.”

Maybe some of our bloggers and visitors can share bench marking data.


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