Infection Control Today - 05/2002: Sharps Safety

Infection Control Today magazines virtual roundtable on sharps safety

Guardian Medical Products, Inc.
6786 Hawthorn Park Drive
Indianapolis, Ind. 46220
Toll free (866) 915-5560

Infection Control Today: While the Needlestick Safety and Prevention Act of 2000 helped raise awareness of sharps injuries among healthcare workers, do you think this legislation had a quantifiable impact on reducing incidences overall?

Guardian: Not yet. Many healthcare facilities across the country have yet to comply with the law. In addition, facilities that have converted to safer devices continue to allow healthcare workers to use unsafe products. Unfortunately, until all healthcare workers are using safety devices faithfully, needlesticks will continue to occur.

Infection Control Today: What can be done in hospitals to realistically safeguard healthcare workers from sharps injuries?

Guardian: Training. Every healthcare worker that uses a safety device should be trained on its proper use. It is also necessary to remind healthcare workers of the severity of exposure to Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C and HIV from a needlestick. Hospital administrators and managers should take every step possible to keep their employees safe.

Infection Control Today: As a manufacturer, how are you able to better engineer sharps to help mitigate or eradicate the possibility of occupational exposure?

Guardian: By providing a product that has as little change in technique as possible. The Gettig Guard Safety Needle fits any standard syringe. Therefore, healthcare workers can use syringes that they are already familiar with using. Unlike any other product available, the Gettig Guard features a temporary locked position to keep the healthcare worker protected against an exposed needle when transporting the syringe to the patient or between injections.

Infection Control Today: The most effectively designed sharps safety device wont do its job unless healthcare workers know how to use it properly. What kind of staff education and training would you advocate?

Guardian: Face-to-face training. In-services are the most effective way for every healthcare worker to learn the proper use of a safety device. Supporting materials, such as videos and handouts should also always be available before the device is used.

Infection Control Today: What should a healthcare worker look for when evaluating a sharps safety device for use?

Guardian: A balance of safety and functionality. The end-user should feel protected from the sharp at all times. Any device that has a safety feature that gets in the way of a procedure or creates another potentially hazardous situation should not be acceptable.

Infection Control Today: What would you say to the hospital administrator who balks at the cost of exchanging conventional sharps for protective devices?

Its the law! Not only can your own employees notify OSHA of the violation, but JCAHO is now reporting violators to OSHA as well. Time has run out. You have no choice but to begin evaluating safety devices. There are many informational resources available that can help you begin the process. Why wouldnt you want to protect your employees?

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