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Sharps injuries among hospital workers in Massachusetts, 2002: findings from the Massachusetts Sharps Injury Surveillance System.

Laramie AK; Davis LK; Firsova N; DeMaria A Jr.; Robert LM
Boston, MA: Massachusetts Department of Public Health, 2004 Jun; :1-61
Health care worker exposures to bloodborne pathogens as a result of injuries caused by needles and other sharp devices are a significant public health concern. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that, nationwide, between 600,000 and 800,000 percutaneous injuries from contaminated sharp devices occur each year in health care; approximately half are sustained by hospital workers. Sharps injuries are preventable, and health care facilities are required by state and federal regulations to implement comprehensive plans to reduce these injuries. Elements of a successful sharps injury prevention program (as outlined by the CDC) include: promoting an overall culture of safety in the workplace, eliminating the unnecessary use of needles and other sharp devices, using devices with sharps injury prevention features (safety devices), employing safe workplace practices, and training health care personnel. Sharps injury surveillance is also a key component of a comprehensive program. While some national data have been collected, little is known about the extent and distribution of sharps injuries among health care workers at the state level. In 2001, pursuant to the Massachusetts law - An Act Relative to Needlestick Injury Prevention (MGL Chapter 111 §53D) - the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH) promulgated regulations requiring hospitals to report sharps injury data to MDPH. This first annual report from the Massachusetts Sharps Injury Surveillance System provides information about sharps injuries among Massachusetts hospital workers that occurred in 2002. For all hospitals combined, patterns of sharps injuries by a) occupation of the injured worker, b) department in which the injury occurred, c) procedure performed, and d) device involved are described. Sharps injury rates1 (defined as number of sharps injuries per 100 licensed hospital beds) are presented for the state overall and for three hospital size categories (small, medium and large hospitals). The report also provides feedback to hospitals regarding data quality. Results stratified by hospital size and by teaching status are included at the end of the report. Under-reporting of sharps injuries by employees has been well documented in the literature, and varies by occupation and by hospital. Hospitals with well established sharps injury surveillance programs and strong safety cultures may identify and report more injuries than hospitals with less well developed programs. Under-reporting must be taken into account in interpreting the findings presented in this report. Hospitals, in evaluating their own data, should do so within the context of their own sharps injury surveillance and prevention programs. Assessment of under-reporting should be an integral part of sharps injury prevention activities. The Massachusetts Sharps Injury Surveillance System is intended to provide information that can assist Massachusetts hospitals and health care workers in targeting and evaluating efforts to reduce the incidence of sharps injuries and the associated human and economic costs. This report illustrates ways in which surveillance data can be used within hospitals to identify prevention priorities. Input from hospitals and health care workers regarding the surveillance activities and the content of this report is welcome. MDPH looks forward to continued collaboration in building an effective sharps injury surveillance system to improve the health and safety of health care workers in Massachusetts.
Health-care-personnel; Medical-personnel; Exposure-levels; Needlestick-injuries; Public-health; Hazards; Nurses; Nursing; Workers; Health-care-facilities; Health-care; Preventive-medicine; Safety-practices; Safety-measures; Safety-education; Training
Massachusetts Department of Public Health Center for Health Information, Statistics, Research and Evaluation, Occupational Health Surveillance Program, 250 Washington Street, 6th Floor, Boston, MA 02108
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Sharps injuries among hospital workers in Massachusetts, 2002: findings from the Massachusetts Sharps Injury Surveillance System
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Massachusetts State Department of Public Health - Boston
Page last reviewed: April 1, 2022
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division