Sharps Safety Advice from the Marketplace

ICT turned to members of industry to determine what they believe is the single most important thing that clinicians can do to prevent needlesticks, sharps injuries and other percutaneous injuries. They also share how their technology helps prevent these types of injuries.

ICT turned to members of industry to determine what they believe is the single most important thing that clinicians can do to prevent needlesticks, sharps injuries and other percutaneous injuries. They also share how their technology helps prevent these types of injuries.

What is the single most important thing that clinicians can do to prevent needlesticks, sharps injuries and other percutaneous injuries?

Retractable Technologies: The single most important thing to do is to use only sharp devices (such as syringes, IV catheters, and blood collection devices) that have integral, or built-in, features that eliminate exposure to the contaminated sharp. Some needle devices (that have an external, retrofitted "safety" feature cobbled onto a syringe) require additional manipulation of the device, and that increases the users risk for suffering a contaminated needlestick injury. Besides eliminating exposure for the healthcare worker, safety devices also must not increase the risk to the patient. With the rise of deadly healthcare-associated illnesses such as catheter-related bloodstream infections, safety technologies must not compromise patient safety or introduce opportunities for contamination. Products with safety-engineered controls should ensure aseptic technique to protect patients.

Stericycle: Our mission is to protect people and to reduce risk. Having a proactive sharps system in place is the single most important process preventing sharps injuries. There are many phases when a clinician may be injured handling sharps. We are experts on the disposal phase; our vertical drop reusable containers, partnered with a proactive exchange schedule, positively affect staff outcomes. We know containers with a vertical drop reduce needlesticks. Based on an independent national survey of 52 hospitals using the Sharps Management Service and Bio Systems reusable containers, respondents indicated they preferred the vertical drop and that its cone shape heightens staff awareness to be careful. As part of this service, containers are proactively changed on a regular schedule before they are full. Hospital staff members are not exposed to needlesticks during this phase because Stericycle technicians perform the function. Staff needlesticks are eliminated during the disposal phase when a proactive system is in place.

Unilife: The first priority is to review whether a needle is required for the procedure. If needles are required, as for example with subcutaneous and intramuscular injections, then staff should evaluate which safety products are best suited to provide optimal protection and comply with the procedures of their facility. Syringes with passive and fully integrated features are often preferred, as the safety mechanism is activated automatically and cannot be removed. Operators should be comfortable activating the safety mechanism inside the body of the patient to minimize the risk of infection from needlestick injuries or splatter. Products with such features are typically intuitive, can be used with one hand, and are convenient for disposal.

How does your product technology help prevent these types of injuries?

Retractable Technologies: VanishPoint® safety needle devices feature patented automated retraction. The needle can be retracted directly from the patient into the device. This pre-removal activation virtually eliminates exposure to the contaminated sharp, thereby greatly reducing the opportunity for a used needle to stick the healthcare workeror anyone else. Once the needle is retracted, the device also is rendered non-reusable. Syringe reuse and accidental needlestick injury are two of the ways in which any of more than 20 bloodborne pathogens, such as HIV, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C, are transmitted from one person to another.

Stericycle: Our technology focuses on sharps disposal as an entire process, from container installation to changing containers before they are full. We introduced the markets first reusable container with a vertical drop and a proactive exchange service. This system eliminates the chance that an overfilled container could cause a needlestick. Hospital staff can then focus on patient care. An independent survey of infection preventionists using the Sharps Management Service and Bio Systems reusable containers confirmed that 100 percent of respondents indicated a significant decline in needlesticks; 85 percent agreed that utilizing the system increased safety due to the proactive exchange of the reusable containers by Stericycle technicians; 91 percent agreed that using the service is a clinical best practice; and 100 percent preferred the reusable containers for its positive environmental impact.

Unilife: Unitract 1mL syringes have passive and fully integrated safety features for intuitive use and optimal protection from needlestick injuries. The safety mechanism is activated automatically whilst the needle is still inside the body of the patient. Operators can control the speed of retraction directly from the body into the barrel of the syringe by relieving thumb or finger pressure on the plunger. The unique combination of passive and operator-controlled retraction helps to minimize the risk of infection from needlestick injuries or aerosol (splatter). The needle is then automatically locked in place within the barrel and the needle tilts to one side to prevent product reuse, tampering or needle re-exposure.

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