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Sharps injuries among hospital workers in Massachusetts, 2006: findings from the Massachusetts Sharps Injury Surveillance System.

Laramie AK; Davis LK; Pun V; Laing J; DeMaria A Jr.
Boston, MA: Massachusetts Department of Public Health, 2009 May; :1-20
More than 3,100 sharps injuries were reported by Massachusetts hospitals in 2006, underscoring the need for continued efforts to reduce the incidence of these injuries. Findings highlight a number of specific issues to be addressed in Massachusetts: 1) Use of devices without safety features continues, as evidenced by the more than 1,600 injuries with such devices. This is true even for those devices for which alternatives with engineered sharps injury prevention features exist on the market and are widely available. Previous studies have shown that implementation of devices with safety features can reduce injuries related to those device types by as much as 86% (Adams & Elliot, 2006; Muntz & Hultburg, 2004). Hospitals should examine the inventory of devices lacking sharps injury prevention features and proceed with evaluating and implementing devices with sharps injury prevention features where clinically appropriate. 2) Blood procedures, which include percutaneous venous or arterial punctures as well as finger sticks, account for about 17% of all injuries reported. Injuries with hollow bore needles, particularly those used for blood procedures, are associated with a higher risk of transmission of bloodborne pathogens. Issues with devices or technique may be revealed through closer examination of the circumstances surrounding injuries associated with blood procedures, particularly details regarding how the injury occurred. Evaluation of injuries related to blood procedures may lead to selection of new devices as well as additional training on the use of devices with sharps injury prevention features. 3) Injuries in operating and procedure rooms constitute 44% of all reported injuries. Work-practice controls are as essential as engineering controls in operating and procedure rooms, particularly because some devices have fewer alternatives with sharps injury prevention features. These measures include use of neutral zones for hands free passing and increased verbal communications regarding the transfer of devices among staff. Evaluation of devices used, and consideration of those with safety features, such as scalpel blades and blunt suture needles is also needed. Together with OSHA, NIOSH issued a safety and health information bulletin (SHIB) regarding the implementation of blunt suture needles in 2007. Prior to the NIOSH SHIB, the American College of Surgeons issued a statement at the 2005 Annual Meeting supporting "the universal adoption of blunt suture needles as the first choice for fascial suturing to minimize or eliminate needle-stick injuries from surgical needles". In addition to suture needles, evaluation of the practice of multi-dose administration of various medications via injection should also be reviewed and alternative practices evaluated, as this practice does not allow for the use of hypodermic needles/syringes with safety features and helps to prevent the risk of crosscontamination and transmission of infections to patients (MMWR, 2008). The Massachusetts Sharps Injury Surveillance System is a collaborative effort between the MDPH, hospitals, professional associations and community advocates. The success of the program in collecting data is a result of this collaboration. MDPH will continue to work with these groups to conduct surveillance, review exposure control activities in hospitals, and facilitate the exchange of information among hospitals about successful prevention strategies.
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; Disease-prevention; Disease-transmission; Disease-control; Work-practices; Worker-health; Surveillance-programs; Employee-exposure; Statistical-analysis
Massachusetts Department of Public Health, Bureau of Health Information, Statistics, Research and Evaluation, Occupational Health Surveillance Program, 250 Washington Street, 6th Floor, Boston, MA 02108
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Healthcare and Social Assistance
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Sharps injuries among hospital workers in Massachusetts, 2006: 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