Dec
15

Fostering a Culture Focused on Sharps Safety

By Stericycle
Healthcare Purchasing News reporter Susan Cantrell’s recent article “Sharp Points” reminds healthcare workers that “taking the appropriate safety precautions does not end on the operating table.”

Almost two decades ago a significant need to reduce escalating sharps-related injuries to hospital workers was near the top of safety conversations. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that safety-engineered sharps devices could prevent an estimated 62 to 88 percent of sharps-related injuries.

Companies who manufacture sharps devices and other industry safety minded players like Stericycle, rose to the challenge. Today’s annual injury estimate rate has nearly been cut in half to about 385,000 (CDC), although some experts believe that number to be low. The impetus for change began with legislation called the Needlestick Safety and Prevention Act (NSPA), an update to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)’s Bloodborne Pathogens Standard.

Experts agree that there is still a need for greater innovation in product design for safer-engineered products to further reduce needle stick and other sharps injuries. Striving for better cultures of safety follows a spectrum of steps from product design and use, to disposal, which is where Stericycle steps in.

One inarguable industry collaborative is to work toward safer working environments. Many agree that, to help reduce injuries, safer product design, development, education and implementation must include opinions from multiple parties, recognize that injuries are not only a surgeon’s issue, and include proper placement and retrieval of sharps. Stericycle believes one final important step – appropriate disposal methods – also helps lower rates.

HPN featured Stericycle’s Maria Lyubelsky, Senior Manager of Sharps Management Service (SMS), explaining how sharps must be properly disposed to prevent injuries to surgical staff, clinicians and others such as environmental services staff.
Br/>Maria describes how Stericycle in the late 1980s began helping to lead the charge to reduce needle stick injuries for healthcare professionals. “The Act seeks to further reduce HCWs’ exposure by requiring employers to have sharps procedures. Stericycle’s program disposes of this waste properly while going beyond NSPA standards.”

Read the article to hear Maria recall a nurse from the University of Rochester summarizing her sharps disposal experiences 30 years ago before there was a reliable professional solution for safe disposal.

Maria explains how advances in container design such as the SMS vertical-drop containers and proactive exchange are contributing to reduced injuries and lower costs for hospitals nationwide.

An SMS user, Renee Huslin of Sharp HealthCare notes, “Most facility leaders share concerns for needlestick injuries and infection, adopting proactive sharps management services. Collaboration with partners can greatly minimize risk.”
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