February 13, 2020

How Dialysis Centers Can Promote Needle Safety

In the United States, some 370,000 people receive hemodialysis each year due to poor kidney function. Dialysis patients often receive numerous injections as part of therapy, which can also pose a potential exposure hazard for healthcare workers delivering their care.  

One way to prevent sharps injuries in dialysis centers is to promote a culture of sharps safety. Since staff at these facilities are constantly using syringes and needles as part of treatment, having solid processes for preparing, handling and disposing of sharp instruments is critical.

Here are four strategies to cultivate a mindset of sharp safety throughout your organization.

  1. Facilitate good hand hygiene. Staff should know when and how to wash their hands and consistently practice proper hand hygiene techniques. Staff should also understand when and how to use gloves, including safe removal and disposal methods. When used correctly, gloves can further prevent infection and needlestick injuries.
  2. Avoid reusing sharps. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), needles and syringes should be single use devices. They should not be used for more than one patient or reused to draw up additional medication. To ensure safe injection practices, a good rule to remember is one needle, one syringe, only one time.
  3. Train staff to minimize needlesticks. The inadvertent transmission of bloodborne pathogens (BBP) is a primary healthcare worker safety risk. Dialysis center staff should receive regular training on how to properly handle sharps, including needles and syringes. This training is required per the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s Bloodborne Pathogens Standard. The standard also dictates that a facility must have a thorough BBP exposure control plan, which outlines possible exposure risks, prevention strategies and response procedures if a worker is exposed.
  4. Practice proper sharps disposal. Organizations should have well-established sharps disposal procedures, including using specially-designed waste receptacles to safely house discarded needles, syringes and other sharp items. These containers should be leak proof, puncture resistant and color-coded or labeled. Reusable containers limit the number of receptacles ending up in landfills—a reusable sharps container replaces the use of up to 600 disposable ones.

Making the commitment is the first step

It is critical for dialysis centers to limit the likelihood of sharps injuries within their facilities. By focusing on safe sharps handling and disposal, organizations can improve safety for patients, employees and the environment. For more information on how Stericycle can help your organization foster a culture of sharps safety, go to Stericycle Sharps Management.

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