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ADVANCE Perspective: Nurses

Nov. 6 Is National Needlestick Safety Day

Published November 5, 2012 8:56 AM by Linda Jones
As we enter flu season, we are reaching a high risk time for needlestick injuries in the healthcare industry - as many as 1,000 injuries every day happen among United States healthcare personnel.

On Nov. 6, America will celebrate their 12th anniversary since passing the Needlestick Safety and Prevention Act. Since the legislation was put in place, the number of needlestick injuries decreased by one third.

Even with the act in place, the numbers of healthcare personnel at risk of injury can be staggering:

Some numbers to consider:

-Approximately 150 million doses of flu vaccine will be administered across the U.S during the influenza season (one injection will be given to almost one in every two U.S. citizens).

-OSHA says 5.6 million workers in the U.S. healthcare industry are at risk of occupational exposure to blood borne pathogens via needlestick injuries

-The CDC says that 385,000 needlestick injuries and other sharps-related injuries are sustained annually by hospital-based healthcare personnel.

Currently, the EU's Health and Safety Executive is reviewing the need for needlestick regulations, with a May 2013 deadline.

Dr. Mary Foley, the Chairperson for Safe in Common, a non-profit organization established to promote needlestick safety within the United States, is regarded as the upmost expert in this field. She is former President of the American Nurses Association, and she stood next to Bill Clinton as he signed this Needlestick Safety and Prevention Act in 2000. Since the news broke of the EU's review on the matter, Dr. Foley has spent the past month speaking with UK press on her recommendations for how the EU can learn from and build upon the mistakes of the U.S. One such lesson is that healthcare personal who work in secondary facilities such as clinics and private doctor's offices are still at high risk for injury. The initial legislation concentrates on primary facilities. This is an area that Dr. Foley has recommended that the UK pay extra attention to.
posted by Linda Jones


I deal with a lot of needlestick claims in the uk and the low level of concern for needlestick safety in this country never ceases to amaze me; overflowing sharps bins, sharps dumped in clinical waste bags etc. Hopefully the EU regs will be a shot across the bows to the nursing and healthcare sector but I doubt it. Keep up the good work.

Mike Massen November 6, 2012 6:50 AM

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