Good News for Clinical Labs and Phlebotomists: Safety-engineered Devices Reduce Needlestick Injuries

Hospital studies consistently show safety-engineered devices reduce needlestick injuries

Plebotomists and safety managers in clinical laboratories across the nation will welcome the results of several studies on phlebotomy needlestick injuries. Evidence is accumulating that use of safety-engineered devices (SED) contributes to fewer reports of accidental needle sticks.

Some experts consider this to be one more example of how focused, concerted attention to a problem in medical laboratory safety standards can encourage innovative solutions. Several hospital studies show a significant reduction in phlebotomy needlestick injuries (NSI). These studies tracked needlestick injuries following passage of legislation in 2000 and the requirement of safety-engineered devices (SEDs).

As all clinical laboratory managers know, phlebotomy procedures not only affect patient satisfaction, they carry risk for needlestick injuries. In a study of 90 facilities from 1993 through 2001, the International Healthcare Worker Safety Center hsc.virginia.edu/epinet/ found 94% of NSIs involved blood-filled needles, according to an article in Medical Laboratory Observer (MLO). This scenario presents the highest risk of bloodborne pathogen transmission.

This prevalence of NSIs led the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to publish its Bloodborne Pathogens Standard in the early 1990s. It also was one reason why Congress voted to enact the Needlestick Safety and Prevention Act (the Act) in 2000. The Act mandated the use of SEDs.

Another study of workers in 87 hospitals showed a whopping 59.9% reduction in phlebotomy needlestick injuries following the passage of the Act. The study compared data from 1993 through 2000 against data from 2001 through 2004.

The most significant effect of the Act, stated another MLO article, was that it led to a 34% reduction in accidental needlesticks in the United States. It also contributed to a 60% decrease in needle exposures during phlebotomy procedures.

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Read more here.

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