Group Calls for Stronger Compliance Measures for Needlestick Prevention

The organization Safe in Common (SIC) says it welcomes the release of a joint recommendation by federal government agencies for the increased use of needlestick prevention devices within the operating rooms of U.S healthcare facilities, but said it did not go far enough in delivering optimal protection to all healthcare personnel at risk of harm.

On May 30, 2012, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued a statement recommending that healthcare professionals in surgical settings use blunt-tip needles when clinically appropriate to suture muscle and fibrous tissue to help prevent needlestick injuries.

We support this move by the FDA, NIOSH and OSHA to improve protection of healthcare workers within the operating room environment," says Mary Foley, PhD, RN and chairperson of Safe in Common. "The OR is a high pressure environment with unique needlestick prevention needs. OSHA began to enforce legislation in 2002 mandating the use of safety engineered medical devices within U.S. healthcare facilities. However the number of reported needlestick injuries caused by suture needles in the OR has remained largely stable during the last decade. It is clear that the use of blunt tip suture needles can dramatically reduce the risk of needlestick injury when suturing fascia and muscle in the OR. Such safety devices should be utilized wherever possible, regardless of the upfront cost.

Foley adds, The recommendation released by federal agencies is a positive first step and a timely reminder to U.S. healthcare facilities. However it will fail to deliver true protection to healthcare workers at risk of harm without strengthened enforcement by OSHA and improved opportunities for device manufacturers to promote awareness of the safest, simplest device technologies.

Safe in Common has united a community of thousands of healthcare personnel around the cornerstone of their campaign gathering signatures for the Organizations Needlestick Safety Pledge as a step toward preventing needlestick and sharps related injuries.

Safe in Common works to eradicate needlestick and sharps related injuries and to promote the adoption of safer engineering controls in healthcare settings through education and training. The Organizations year-long Needlestick Safety Advocacy Tour of healthcare conferences included exhibiting at the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC)s 39th Annual Educational Conference & International Meeting held in San Antonio, Texas this week.

Safe in Common will continue to shine a bright spotlight on this matter, and we look forward to discussing the on-going needs with legislators, industry leaders and frontline healthcare personnel over the coming months to better address the issues and form a clear call to action, Foley says.

For more information about Safe in Common or to learn about partnership opportunities and the Organizations ongoing work to raise awareness of needlestick safety and promote utilizing safer engineering controls that protect healthcare workers from unnecessary needlestick and sharps related injuries, visit http://www.safeincommon.org.

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