-- Robert Preidt
WEDNESDAY, Feb. 15 (HealthDay News) -- The number of
needlestick/sharps-related skin puncture wounds suffered by health
care workers in the United States has fallen since a federal safety
law took effect in 2001, researchers report.
The Needlestick Safety and Prevention Act (NSPA) requires
employers to provide safety-engineered devices to employees who are
at risk for exposure to bloodborne pathogens and to let frontline
workers have a say in selecting these devices.
Employers must also review their exposure-control plans at least
once a year to ensure they keep pace with advances in sharps-safety
technology, and must keep sharps-injury logs that contain required
details about injuries.
The Act also mandated that the U.S. Occupational Safety and
Health Administration (OSHA) revise its standard for the handling
of bloodborne pathogens, incorporating the new requirements.
Researchers examined data on nearly 24,000
needlestick/sharps-related skin puncture wounds -- called
"percutaneous injuries" -- that occurred in 85 hospitals in 10
states between 1995 and 2005. They found there was a trend toward
increasing rates of these injuries before the NSPA took effect in
2001, followed by a 38 percent fall in such injuries after the law
took effect. Injury rates through 2005 remained well below pre-NSPA
The decrease in needlestick injuries paralleled a major shift
from conventional to safety-engineered devices and an increase in
the number of OSHA citations for violation of the new standard for
handling bloodborne pathogens.
"Our findings provide evidence that the NSPA contributed to the decline in percutaneous injuries among U.S. hospital workers. They also support the concept that well-crafted legislation bolstered by effective enforcement can be a motivating factor in the transition to injury-control practices and technologies, resulting in a safer work environment and workforce," the researchers, led by Elayne Phillips of the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, wrote in a letter to the editor published in the Feb. 16 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.
The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration has more
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
Copyright © EBSCO Publishing. All rights reserved.