28 May 2017

Fostering a Culture of Safety

The Quest for Reliability in Health Care

Reliability is one of the key tenets of a “culture of safety.” Health care organizations that embrace this type of culture strive to perform complex processes the right way each and every time—especially those tasks that have a high risk of injury if not done correctly. For example, giving injections, administering controlled substances and handling infectious waste are all tasks that require staff to consistently and precisely follow procedure.

Although there are many strategies for realizing a culture of safety, one of the most fundamental elements is to make it difficult to do the wrong thing and easy to do the right one. Starting with the use of specially designed equipment to support the correct approach is key—and making sure that the equipment is user friendly and accessible are also important factors.

Improving Sharps Disposal Safety

While employee safety is a crucial element of today’s health care environment, nearly 20 years ago the industry wrestled with a mounting problem of inadvertent sharps injuries. Today, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that approximately 385,000 sharps-related injuries occur each year, about half of what it was in the past. To address the continued issue of sharps-related injuries, the CDC encourages health care organizations to use safer sharps devices that curb the amount of injuries—things like retractable scalpels and guarded needles.

Going a step further, companies like Stericycle have designed sharps containers that enable proper sharps disposal while mitigating the risk of injury. The puncture-resistant, leak-proof containers allow staff to drop in needles and other sharps, and are also translucent so staff can easily see when the containers are filled and need replacing. Using these containers, staff can consistently and safely discard sharp objects properly without causing harm to themselves or others.

Safely Handling Multiple Waste Streams

Preventing sharps injuries is not the only safety goal that effective product engineering can help to meet. Specially-designed waste receptacles can also ensure the proper and safe disposal of pharmaceuticals, controlled substances and other dangerous waste. By conveniently placing these containers in areas where staff can quickly access them, an organization can improve the likelihood that staff will consistently follow established protocols.

Develop a Culture of Safety

Effective waste disposal can play a role in an organization’s pursuit of a culture of safety. Discover how a partnership with Stericycle can help you revise your waste disposal protocol and employ specialized-waste containers to cultivate highly reliable performance.

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