Archive for: Needlesticks & Sharps Injuries

Call to Action issued to protect healthcare workers from bloodborne disease exposures

By: March 9th, 2012 Email This Post Print This Post

Progress has been made since the passage of the federal Needlestick Safety and Protection Act ten years ago, yet significant challenges remain in reducing the risk of healthcare worker exposure to bloodborne pathogens, according to a March 8 joint news release by the International Healthcare Worker Safety Center at the University of Virginia and the American Nurses Association.

The two organizations, along with 17 other nursing and healthcare organizations have endorsed a Consensus Statement and Call to Action for future efforts on needlestick prevention.

“We view this as a roadmap for future progress in preventing needlesticks, one of the most serious occupational risks healthcare workers face,” according to Center director and UVa Professor Janine Jagger, MPH, PhD. The eight-page statement provides “a snapshot of where we are now and where further work is needed in order to continue to protect healthcare workers from this risk they face every day in the line of duty,” Jagger says.

The Call to Action focuses on five pivotal areas in need of attention:

  1. Improve sharps safety in surgical settings
  2. Understand and reduce exposure risks in non-hospital settings (which include physicians’ offices, clinics, home healthcare, and an array of other settings)
  3. Involve frontline workers in the selection of safety devices
  4. Address gaps in available safety devices, and encourage innovative designs and technology
  5. Enhance worker education and training

A recommendation included in third item on exposure risks in non-hospital settings calls for OSHA  to “promote regional emphasis programs that focus on enforcement of the BPS [Bloodborne Pathogens Standard] in non-hospital settings; further, that other relevant groups, such as accrediting and licensing bodies and healthcare and workers’ compensation insurers enhance compliance incentives for non-hospital employers.”

Jordan Barab, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the OSHA, expressed the agency’s support, according to the news release, and noted, “The goal of this consensus statement, which is to continue the progress in reducing the risk of sharps injuries to healthcare workers, is one that is in line with OSHA’s mission.”

Lobbying for HAI legislation

By: February 22nd, 2012 Email This Post Print This Post

“If you broke it, you fix it, and you pay for it,”  is the attitude of a couple who are lobbying the Virginia legislature for a law “that would make hospitals financially responsible for the treatment of all hospital-acquired infections,” according to The Daily Progress (Charlottesville), February 21.

As a result of his near death experience from an HAI from spinal surgery, John Muncie and his wife Jody Jaffe hope to acquire support for “John’s Law” which would require Virginia hospitals to cover the treatment costs for all HAIs and serve as an incentive to lower infection rates in healthcare.

The infectious disease specialist at Martha Jefferson Hospital where the surgery was performed says that the infection rate is in line with the national average.

Even though the federal government requires hospitals “to pay for treatment of some hospital-acquired infections for Medicare and Medicaid patients,” Muncie’s proposal would require hospitals to pay for the treatment covered by private insurance, according to the news report.

Needlesticks law accounts for drop in injuries

By: February 20th, 2012 Email This Post Print This Post

Law and order has led to a decrease in needlestick injuries among hospital workers.

A multihospital sharps-injury database maintained by the International Healthcare Worker Safety Center at the University of Virginia shows a 38% decline in percutaneous injuries since passage of the Needlestick Safety and Prevention Act (NSPA) on November 6, 2000 and stronger enforcement by OSHA according to “Percutaneous Injuries before and after the Needlestick Safety and Prevention Act,” appearing in the correspondence section of the of the New England Journal of Medicine, February 16.

Along with the decrease, researchers from the safety center tracked “a steep market shift from conventional to safety-engineered devices,” suggesting additional effects from the NSPA.

“Our findings provide evidence that the NSPA contributed to the decline in percutaneous injuries among U.S. hospital workers. They also support the concept that well-crafted legislation bolstered by effective enforcement can be a motivating factor in the transition to injury-control practices and technologies, resulting in a safer work environment and workforce,” conclude researchers Elayne K. Phillips, B.S.N., Ph.D.; Mark R. Conaway, Ph.D.; Janine C. Jagger, M.P.H., Ph.D.


Weekly poll: Progress from Needlestick Safety and Prevention Act

By: February 20th, 2012 Email This Post Print This Post

With the report of a 38% decrease in needlesticks, has the passage and enforcement of the Needlestick Safety and Prevention Act met your expectations? Take the OSHA Healthcare Advisor Weekly Poll and let us know.

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Needlesticks more likely during pandemic clinics

By: February 17th, 2012 Email This Post Print This Post

Healthcare workers giving lots flu shots in clinics during a pandemic are at higher risk of experiencing needlestick injuries, according to a study published in the American Journal of Infection, February 2.

“Needlestick injury surveillance during mass vaccination clinics”  looked at needlestick injuries to healthcare workers in the Denver Metropolitan region health department clinics during the H1N1 pandemic. The study found that the injury rate was 4.9 times the mean rate compared that of non-pandemic vaccination clinics from 2003 to 2009.

The study also found an increased trend in needlestick injuries with vaccination inexperience.

“These findings can be used to improve future mass vaccination clinic safety,” the study included.

Vital stats: Prediction on bloodborne pathogen exposures

By: February 16th, 2012 Email This Post Print This Post

While still in the first part of the year, the OSHA Healthcare Advisor asked readers to predict how well their facility will do in preventing bloodborne pathogen exposures in 2012. Here are the results.

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Weekly poll: Needlestick safety devices

By: February 13th, 2012 Email This Post Print This Post

The OSHA Bloodborne Pathogens standard requires employers to “Document annually consideration and implementation of appropriate commercially available and effective safer medical devices designed to eliminate or minimize occupational exposure.” In healthcare facilities, this requirement applies to safety devices for needlestick prevention. How confident are you that your healthcare facility has considered and provided you with the best safety devices to prevent needlesticks? Take our OSHA Healthcare Advisor Weekly Poll and let us know.

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Ask the expert: Source patient testing after needlestick injury

By: February 3rd, 2012 Email This Post Print This Post

Q: When must we obtain testing consent from the source individual after an employee needlestick exposure?

A: The sooner the better.

Section 1910.1030(f)(3)(ii)(A) of the Bloodborne Pathogens standard says, “The source individual’s blood shall be tested as soon as feasible and after consent is obtained.” If consent cannot be obtained, OSHA requires you to document as such.

Also, if you are in a state where the source individual’s consent is not required, “the source individual’s blood, if available, shall be tested and the results documented,” according to the standard.

Viewing the film Puncture

By: January 11th, 2012 Email This Post Print This Post

If you missed the film Puncture, which was highlighted in the December Medical Environment Update, when it premiered in select cities earlier this fall, and even if it hasn’t’ shown up in an independent theater near you or as part of a campus film series, you now have a chance to see it through DVD rental/purchase or online streaming.

January 3 was the release date through Blockbuster and Netflix, and Millennium Entertainment says it is likely that the film will be available through other on-demand sources.

The best way to stay up to date on availability is to visit the film’s Facebook page.

Ask the expert: OSHA safety sharps compliance on pre-filled syringes

By: January 4th, 2012 Email This Post Print This Post

Q: May we use the non-safety needles that come with pre-filled vaccine syringes provided by the pharmaceutical company without violating OSHA standards?

A: No. Manufacturer-supplied pre-filled syringes without safety needles do not exempt employers from compliance with the Bloodborne Pathogens standard as a 2007 OSHA letter of interpretation, “Requirements for safety-engineered sharps for stockpiled pandemic influenza vaccines and pre-filled syringes,” makes clear:

“…where safety-engineered equipment, such as add-on safety devices, is commercially available, employers are expected to implement their use to prevent needlestick incidents. Furthermore, we are unaware of any technical reasons that would prevent the use of safety-engineered needles for pre-filled syringes at this time.”

This became an actual concern late in 2008 when Novartis supplied pre-filled flu vaccines without safety needles. You can read about it at “Lack of flu-shot safety device poses problem for worker.”

To make things perfectly clear following this event, OSHA issued a notice stating:

OSHA’s Bloodborne Pathogens Standard, 29 CFR 1910.1030 requires that employers who have employees with reasonably anticipated exposure to blood and/or other potentially infectious materials (OPIM) evaluate, select, and use engineering controls (e.g., sharps with engineered sharp injury protections (SESIPs)) to eliminate or minimize exposure [29 CFR 1910.1030(b), 29 CFR 1910.1030(c)(1)(v), and 1910.1030(d)(2)(i)]. This applies to the pre-filled injection devices for influenza vaccine or other vaccines.

Compliance is not limited to pre-filled syringes; surgical kits are also subject the standard, See”OSHA, GPOs, and safety devices.”

Ask the expert: Who does OSHA fine for not using safety needles, the worker or employer

By: December 30th, 2011 Email This Post Print This Post

Q: If an employee refuses to use available safety devices, such as safety needles and sharps, who would pay the fine if an OSHA inspector cites such a situation? The employee or the employer?

A: The employer is responsible and bears the burden of any citations or fines. OSHA only has the power to fine the employer, not the employee.

OSHA would expect the employer to modify the safety education program and training to achieve compliance among staff. Documented progressive disciplinary actions could mitigate the issuance of a citation or the severity of a fine.

Last year the average initial OSHA fine to medical practices for not providing or ensuring the use of safety devices was $1,306, according to Medical Environment Update.

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Sharp advice for healthcare leaders

By: December 20th, 2011 Email This Post Print This Post

Safety culture, while every staff member’s responsibility, has to be a big item for any leader of a healthcare organization. And, as a subset of safety culture, sharps safety is critical to protecting healthcare workers.

That is why I found the article authored by experts from International Healthcare Worker Safety Center at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville and appearing in HealthLeaders Media, December 6, such a good fit for this blog space, because it asks leaders how their institutions are faring in the continuous quality improvement efforts needed to maintain sharps safety.

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