Infection Control Today - 05/2002: Sharps Safety


Infection Control Today magazines virtual roundtable onsharps safety

Safety 1st
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Infection Control Today: While the Needlestick Safety and Prevention Act of2000 helped raise awareness of sharps injuries among healthcare workers, do youthink this Legislation had a quantifiable impact on reducing incidences overall?

Safety 1st: Its too early to tell. When the legislation was passedvery few facilities switched over to safety devices immediately, and somefacilities brought in any safety device to try and become compliant. Manyhigh risk areas (surgery, ER, etc) are continuing to evaluate differentsafety devices, due to dissatisfaction with the safety devices originallychosen. There have been too many extentions of the mandated compliance date.

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

Safety 1st: Management must work more closely with the frontline personneland not force a product on them. Ensure that every department in the hospital,evaluates safety devices on their own, and make sure that every department isaware of the latest technology prior to the selection of a device forevaluation. Many departments in facilities are resisting using safety devices.Some is this is due to habits, and some is due to lack of concern. Additionally,the safety devices originally chosen do not meet their departments particularneeds or a safety device was chosen for them without their input.

Infection Control Today: As a manufacturer, how are you able to betterengineer sharps to help mitigate or eradicate the possibility of occupationalexposure?

Safety 1st: Safety 1st® Medical conducts focus groups with nurses and otherclinicians, to gather their input into product designs. When clinicians areinvolved in the product design they stress the features that they need in asafety device. Thus, the final product is one that the nurse/clinicians willreadily use. If a facility has a safety device that the users dontunderstand, or it doesnt work in their particular department, occupationalexposure to bloodborne pathogens will continue to be a serious problem..

Infection Control Today: The most effectively designed sharps device wontdo its job unless healthcare workers know how to us it properly. What kind ofstaff eduation and training would you advocate?

Safety 1st: The best education is in-servicing of the users, in smallgroups. All the features and benefits can be reviewed, and questions can beanswered. Constant follow-up by manufacturers reps is very important, tocontinue training and to in-service newly hired personnel. Instruction Sheetsposted in the nurses lounge and at the nurses stations are also very important.Safety 1st® Medical also supplying training videos for the facilityslibrary. This allows for on-going product review.

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

Safety 1st: The most important feature is that the device must be one-handed.That means that the user must be able to activate the safety feature with thesame hand used for the procedure. This allows the user to maintain patientcontrol, which is very important. Additionally, the device must be able to adaptto other ancillary items, already in place in the facility. With a safetysyringe, for example, a user might want to change needles, attach filterneedles, or filter straws, IV lines, etc.

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

Safety 1st: First of all, its the law! Penalties fornon-compliance can be as high as $7,000 for first offenses. The high cost ofliability and litigation in not providing protection to all healthcare workerscould increase costs substantially higher than the added cost of Sharpsprotective devices. Facilities should be prepared to change their buying habits,and work with manufacturers for cost-saving solutions. The Occupational Safetyand Health Administration (OSHA) regulation mandates that sharps protectivedevices should be chosen regardless of pre-existing contracts. By lookingoutside of existing contracts there could be ways of eliminating duplicatesharps items, or reducing the number of SKUs, which could lead to cost-savings.

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