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CARLSBAD, Calif. -- The National Alliance for the Primary Prevention of Sharps Injuries (NAPPSI) and Infection Control Today (ICT) magazine have announced the 2004 winner of the Primary Prevention Safety Award, co-sponsored by the two organizations. The winning institution -- Health First in Rockledge, Fla. -- was featured in the cover story of the July 2004 issue of ICT.
"Health First was a leader in sharps safety years before strong federal mandates were in place," said Brad Poulos, executive director of NAPPSI. "They embody the essence of NAPPSI's primary prevention philosophy -- that wherever possible, medical sharps should be replaced with technologies that eliminate injury risk."
"The message on sharps safety is finally being heard," said Bill Eikost, ICT's publisher. "Our 2004 award winner, Health First, is a prime example. It used to be that if you could make one healthcare professional understand the importance of sharps safety, it was a victory. It speaks volumes to see a multi-hospital chain implement standards and change safety devices system wide to the extent that Health First has. Not only have the healthcare workers seen the importance of these changes, but it has filtered up to the administration. Hospitals and multi-hospital systems are creating newsletters and websites to bring education to the forefront. It works, but we still have a long way to go."
Corporate sponsors of the 2004 Primary Prevention Sharps Safety Award are Venetec International, Baxter Healthcare, B. Braun, Bio Systems, Cell Robotics, Inc., Hospira, and Tyco Kendall Healthcare. The award is presented annually to a healthcare facility that demonstrates exemplary use of the primary prevention approach.
Primary prevention means utilizing technologies and practices that either reduce or eliminate the need to use sharp medical implements. Put simply, eliminate the needle and eliminate the risk. In contrast, secondary prevention renders safer those sharps that must be introduced into the healthcare workplace.
HealthEast Care System in St. Paul, Minn. was selected as first runner-up for the NAPPSI/ICT safety award. A network of integrated health services including four hospitals, HealthEast formed a multidisciplinary needle-safety committee in 1999 to help create a safer work environment throughout the HealthEast system. The committee established a mission of minimizing medical sharps injuries by eliminating sharps and implementing safety devices wherever possible. The committee also instituted training and education in safer work practices.
By 2003, the sharps injury rate had been cut nearly in half throughout the system. The committee has focused on reducing surgery-related sharps injuries in 2004.
First-place winner Health First, a non-profit provider comprised of three medical centers, was recognized for longtime commitment to sharps safety. The organization began implementing sharps safety devices and practices more than a decade ago, years before the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) strengthened its Bloodborne Pathogens Standard (BPS) in 2001.
Outstanding features of Health First's approach include:
-- Early adoption of sharps safety technology. Led by its infection control department, Health First embraced safety syringes and needleless IV systems soon after their debut.
-- Broad use of primary prevention devices. Primary prevention technologies now in use at Health First include sutureless and tapeless catheter securement devices (StatLock IV Ultra, IV Ultra Pediatric, and PICC Plus by Venetec International); needleless IV connectors (CLAVE connector by ICU Medical); surgical glues (DERMABOND(TM) Topical Skin Adhesive by Ethicon); needleless drug-delivery devices (Lifeshield(R) CLAVE(R) Connector by Hospira); plastic capillary tubes; and plastic blood culture bottles.
-- Exemplary reduction of unplanned catheter restarts. Health First understood that unplanned restarts not only expose workers to dangerous infections from IV needles, but also compromise patient safety and comfort, hurt nurse productivity, and increase costs. Today, the organization secures peripheral IV catheters with catheter securement devices (adhesive anchors) that have proven in clinical trials to significantly reduce restarts.
-- Review of new safety technology. In 2001, Health First initiated its Exposure Prevention Program, which uses a safety product survey to keep the organization current with available safety technology. The program has set a goal of ultimately replacing all sharps with safety devices throughout the Health First system.
-- Multidisciplinary approach to safety device implementation. Health First supports the implementation process by not only involving Medical Products Standards Committee members but also relevant hospital departments. For example, human resource development organizes trainings on how to use the devices.
-- Sharps safety education. Health First reinforces its safety message with a variety of educational tools. These include Prevention, an infection control publication; Safety on the Go, a newsletter that covers environment-of-care issues; a monthly employee newsletter; and an online sharps safety education program.
-- Cost-effectiveness. Health First has demonstrated that protecting healthcare workers is not only the right thing to do, but is also financially practical for employers. For example, reducing catheter restarts enabled Health First to reduce salary dollars for its IV team, as well as cutting overall costs related to IV therapy.
"We're honored to be recognized by NAPPSI and ICT, because these organizations have done so much to advance the cause of sharps safety," said Michael D. Means, FACHE, Health First's president/CEO. "I hope this award encourages other healthcare systems to follow our example. I believe we've demonstrated that sharps safety also makes sense from a financial and management point of view."
Health First serves the citizens of Florida's Brevard County with three hospitals: the 150-bed Cape Canaveral Hospital in Cocoa Beach, Holmes Regional Medical Center (514 beds) in Melbourne, and Palm Bay Community Hospital, with 60 beds, Palm Bay. The Health First system also offers outpatient centers; the county's only trauma center; home care; specialized programs for cancer, diabetes, heart, stroke, and rehabilitative services; a 32-member medical group; three fitness centers; and Medicare+Choice, commercial POS, and commercial HMO health plans.
NAPPSI's membership encompasses more than 4,000 individual healthcare workers, as well as medical device manufacturers and many clinical associations concerned with needlestick safety. Membership is free to individual clinicians.
For NAPPSI membership and other information, call (858) 350-8623, send an email to info@NAPPSI.org, or access the Web site at www.NAPPSI.org.