1. Alexander, Mary BS, CRNI

Article Content

Welcome to another supplemental focus issue of the Journal of Infusion Nursing. The articles contained in this supplement are the result of a special one-day educational offering, "Healthcare Worker Safety Issues in Infusion Therapy," which was held on February 6, 2002 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The meeting was held in conjunction with the National Home Infusion Therapy Association's (NHIA) Annual Conference, and was the first step in what we hope will be a long-standing collaborative relationship with NHIA.


The focus of this supplement-safety in the workplace-is an issue that continues to draw attention from the nursing community, and for good reason: the potential for injury is great given the nature of the infusion specialty and its care modalities. It is estimated that 800,000 sharps-related injuries are reported annually, and that half of all injuries go unreported. 1 Of those reported, approximately1000 healthcare workers will contract a serious infection from their injury, such as immunodeficiency and hepatitis viruses. Hepatitis alone is estimated to affect more than 4 million Americans, and a needlestick injury incurred from a patient infected with hepatitis carries an infection development rate of 3% to 10%. With scary rates of injury and infection, it behooves us to take a look at the causes and repercussions of these avoidable workplace hazards.


Occupational exposure to such pathogens not only results in physical injuries and possibly disease, but also impacts the profession when work time and income are lost; and liability issues arise if disability or death occurs. With the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) Needlestick Safety and Prevention Act of 2000, standards that employers must observe for avoiding sharps injuries changed greatly. Healthcare organizations in all practice settings have a responsibility to review and acquire new equipment that will protect healthcare workers from injury. And employees need to know how to use infusion equipment competently and correctly to avoid injury.


The articles you are about to read cover several aspects of healthcare worker safety issues, including identification of bloodborne pathogens, federally legislated activities that impact care provision, and healthcare worker education and compliance. We have also added a special benefit to this issue by reprinting, in its entirety, the new "Guidelines for the Prevention of Intravascular Catheter -Related Infections,"2 recently published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This comprehensive guideline was developed for all practitioners who insert catheters and those responsible for surveillance and control of infections in hospital, outpatient, and homecare settings. The CDC employed a multidisciplinary approach to the Guidelines revision by assembling a working group composed of members from professional organizations representing the disciplines of critical care medicine, infectious diseases, health infection control, surgery, anesthesiology, interventional radiology, pulmonary medicine, pediatrics, and nursing. INS is proud to have been selected as one of the organizations in the working group to represent the infusion specialty. We hope that you will save this issue so that you can use it as an easy reference to the Guidelines or share it with your colleagues.


Finally, this issue (excepting the CDC Guidelines) contains a continuing education test that can be submitted to the publisher for recertification units toward the CRNI credential. Nurses can earn 5 recertification units for completing and passing the enclosed test.



Figure. Mary Alexand... - Click to enlarge in new windowFigure.



1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Preventing needlestick injuries. Available: Accessed September 2002. [Context Link]


2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Guidelines for the prevention of intravascular catheter-related infections. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2002; 51( RR-10):1-29. [Context Link]