Needlestick Safety Remains a Concern for Healthcare Professionals

Despite legislation and continued focus across the U.S. to improve sharps safety, needlestick injuries (NSIs) resulting in the exposure to infectious disease continue to be a major issue facing all healthcare professionals. Lynn Hadaway, MEd, RN, BC, CRNI, who has more than 35 years experience in infusion nursing and adult education, addressed this topic during a B. Braun Medical Inc. (B. Braun) showcase session held during the Association for Vascular Access (AVA) 2011 annual scientific meeting in San Jose, Calif.

While issues with mucocutaneous blood exposure are also a concern, complications from needlestick injuries remain a top threat to the healthcare community, says Hadaway. It is clear that the U.S. has made significant improvements surrounding NSIs with the passing of the Needlestick Safety and Prevention Act (NSPA) in 2000, but changes from the Act have not eliminated the problem. There is still work to be done and education of healthcare professional safety remains critical. The good news is there are products available to safeguard against NSIs. 

Echoing Hadaways statements are the findings of a 2011 Infusion Nursing Society member survey on IV catheter related risks conducted by B. Braun, which surveyed more than 750 clinicians, showing that there is still confusion among the medical community on the definition of active vs. passive safety devices and what safety devices are most effective in protecting against NSIs. These findings point to a continuing need to raise awareness for effective tools to prevent NSIs. Supporting this effort, the 2011 Infusion Nursing Standards of Practice, Standard 22, Practice Criteria F states that The nurse should advocate for passive safety engineered devices for needlestick injury prevention.[1]

Adding a layer of evidence supporting the adoption and use of safety engineered devices to prevent healthcare professional injuries and exposure to bloodborne pathogens, the Tosini study[2] a recent landmark study conducted by GERES (Groupe dEtude sur le Risque dExposition des Soignants) confirmed that passive, fully automatic safety devices offer significantly better protection against accidental NSIs than early generation active safety technologies such as semi-automatic (push-button) devices or those with manually sliding shields or hinged caps.

The Tosini study shows that a passive, fully automatic safety IV catheter is about two times better than an active, semi-automatic push-button safety shield and three times better than a manually sliding shield technology in preventing NSIs, says Tom Sutton, vice president of vascular access and IV systems for B. Braun Medical Inc. With products such as B. Brauns Introcan Safety® IV Catheter, for example, all the user has to do is use it, as the safety mechanism does not require any extra steps for activation ultimately mitigating risk for forgetting to make the needle safe.


1. 2011 Infusion Nursing Standards of Practice; section 22 Safe Handling and Disposal of Sharps, Hazardous Materials, and Hazardous Waste (pg P28)
.2.  Needlestick Injury Rates According to Different Types of Safety-Engineered Devices: Results of a French Multicenter Study conducted by GERES (Groupe d'Etude sur le Risque d'Exposition des Soignants aux Agents Infectieux). Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology. April 2010; 31:402-407.