Sharps injury rate may be due to non-use and non-activation of safety devices

Our recent study of Sharps injury (SI) incidence in USA shows there has been little reduction in overall SI incidence in last 10 years. This is puzzling as, under OSHA law, every hospital must use safety engineered devices (SED) wherever commercially available and clinically feasible, review their Exposure Control Plan and new technology annually, and maintain a log of all SI. We also know that every hospital is conscious of their SI incidence and is striving to reduce it. So why hasn’t the national incidence decreased?

In a recent publication to investigate one possible reason for the above, I audited a sample of 18 sharps containers from 5 Florida healthcare facilities. The results were disturbing – over half of the sharps were NOT SED, and of the SED, 22% were NOT activated. It is only a sampling of one region in one state but my experience tells me these results may reflect a national phenomenon.

These results indicate that:

  • less SED are being used than thought (do staff have non-official access to non-SED?), and
  • more SED are non-activated than thought (do staff not see need to always activate?).

Non-use and non-activation of SED may be one explanation for the lack of falling SI incidence in USA.

Are you a healthcare professional?

  • If so, how do we correct this?
  • Under what circumstances do you see HCP:
    • not using SED?
    • not activating SED?

I’d like to hear your feedback and opinions

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