EXPOSURE SAFETY: A tale of two safety conversions

June 2004 
Volume 34  Number 6
Pages 70 - 70
  PDF Version Available!


  • Improving safety in acute care

  • Challenges in a pediatric setting

  • More tips for success

    SINCE THE Needlestick Safety and Prevention Act took full effect in April 2001, health care facilities have been switching to safety-engineered needle devices. Here's how two hospitals tailored the process to their needs.

    Improving safety in acute care

    From 1999 to 2002, an acute care hospital in North Carolina decreased its annual sharps injury rate by 35%, in part because of these solutions:

    * Participation of clinical staff . Workers from various departments meeting to discuss sharps safety found that respiratory therapy workers doing arterial punctures and oncology staff accessing implanted ports with Huber needles risked rebound needle-stick injuries when removing the needle. Clinicians from both departments, the HIV task force, and the occupational therapy department analyzed their procedures. Among the solutions that worked were a protective device designed by a respiratory therapy worker and implementation of safety Huber needles.

    * Confronting equipment problems . Whenever a worker has trouble with a device that could lead to a body fluid exposure, the hospital's sharps safety coordinator alerts users about the risk and notifies the manufacturer. If someone is injured, she sends an alert to everyone in the facility describing what happened. The injured employee may anonymously share prevention tips.

    * Maintaining competency . Members of the clinical staff undergo yearly competency reviews and participate in hands-on demonstrations aided by suppliers of products they use in the clinical setting.

    Challenges in a pediatric setting

    A pediatric teaching hospital in Washington State met resistance to safety devices for several reasons: The staff perceived a lower risk of bloodborne infection from sharps injuries because their patients are ...

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