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.
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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