The USA Association of Occupational Health Professionals in Healthcare (AOHP) has issued a press release on the publication of their 2013-14 survey of Blood exposure incidence among US healthcare workers (HCW).
The survey, AOHP’s third in their annual series, and in which 84 hospitals in 28 states participated in supplying their 2013 and 2014 data, shows a significant rise in exposure incidents among US HCW.
Using “per 100 occupied beds” as the denominator, the 2014 sharps injury (SI) rate of 33.3, is significantly higher than the 24.0 in AOHP’s 2011 survey, and significantly higher than the EPINet rate of 22.2 in 2001, the year safety engineered devices (SED) became mandatory.
Exposure incidents include the HCW being stuck with a blood-contaminated needle or having a patient’s blood or blood-contaminated fluids splashed onto them. Each such incident carries a small but definite risk of transmitting one or more of 60 diseases, the three most well-known being HIV, Hepatitis C and Hepatitis B.
The denominator showing the highest rise was “Occupied beds” and this may reflect the inability of this denominator to reflect the increases in day-patients and outpatients. However, “Total FTE”, a mirror of total patient workload, also showed a rising trend.
The paper, authored by Carol Brown, Miranda Dally, myself and Linda Good, propose the rise may be due to:
- increasing HCW workloads;
- decreasing resources;
- increasing day-patient and outpatient numbers, and
- incorrect use of SED
Several hospitals stood out for their low exposure rates. Examples of their successful reduction-strategies were: Competency-based education at orientation and annually (and repeated with all injured HCW); Investigation of every sharps injury; Making SI rates transparent and known to all staff; Requiring a waiver to be requested for non-SED use; Holding HCW and Management responsible for their safety.
AOHP’s fifth annual survey (2015 calendar year) is in progress with publication aim late 2016.