elcam medical safety

Safety is in the details

Preventing needlestick injuries in the ICU

elcam medical safety

As a critical care nurse, you know all too well the dangers of needlestick injuries in the ICU. And while caring for patients is your number one priority, keeping yourself safe is equally important. It is estimated that 12 billion injections are administered each year worldwide. The United States Center for Disease Control (CDC) reported that about 600,000 to 800,000 needle stick injuries occur annually among 8 million healthcare workers in the United States that work in hospitals and other healthcare settings

Needle-stick injuries (NSIs) are defined as a penetrating wound with an instrument that is potentially contaminated with another person’s body fluid. The United States National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), defines needle stick injuries as injuries caused by needles such as hypodermic needles, blood collection needles, intravenous (IV) stylets, and needles used to connect parts of IV delivery systems

Data from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) confirm that professional workers in the ICU are at a higher risk for blood-borne pathogen transmission compared to workers in other hospital and clinical areas. Performing under stressful conditions and working at a hectic pace to treat and save the lives of patients in distress puts you at an increased risk for needlestick injuries. Although these injuries have been greatly reduced by the use of assorted pumps, clamps, y-connectors and other instruments, the use of stopcocks is largely responsible for the versatility and control ICU nurses need to prevent self-injury.

According to the International Healthcare Worker Safety Center, the largest proportion of percutaneous injuries (PI) were caused by disposable syringes, with almost a third of disposable syringe injuries involved drawing venous or arterial blood. Butterfly needles accounted for 11% of injuries, IV catheters 9%, suture needles 9%, blood gas syringes 5% and unattached hypodermic needles, scalpels, prefilled syringes and phlebotomy needles 3% each. Overall, 42% of PIs in the ICUS involve blood-filled needles. For all other settings, that number was only 25%.

In the United States, the Needlestick Safety and Prevention Act of 2000 and OSHA’s revised blood-borne pathogens standard now require the use of safety-engineered devices and safer work practices. A European Directive from 2010 also stresses the prevention of needlestick injuries and calls for education, specifying safety procedures and providing medical devices that incorporate safety-engineered protection mechanisms. Australia, Hong Kong and Japan have also published guidelines and recommendations for the prevention of needlestick injuries.

With the goal of minimizing and eventually eliminating healthcare workers’ exposure to needlestick injuries and exposure to blood-borne pathogens, greater attention needs to be focused on implementing the use of luer-activated stopcocks in the ICU. The luer-activated valve enables a needle-free manipulation of the stopcock, resulting in a dramatic improvement in safety for ICU workers and their patients. These safety-engineered devices and work practice controls can help keep you safer in the ICU.

If you’d like to learn more about preventing needlestick injuries in the ICU by using luer-activated stopcocks, we’d like to offer you a complimentary copy of the white paper we’ve been referring to, Elcam Medical’s New & Innovative Minimal Residual Volume Luer-Activated Stopcock.

Access yours today, and we’ll see you next time “In the ICU.”

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