This paper explores a journal
that goes in-depth on the importance of sharps safety. Sharps safety laws have
always been implemented, however, the risks of exposure to blood-borne
pathogens is something that will always be evident in the healthcare field. The
Association of periOperative Registered Nurses (AORN) and the Occupational
Health and Safety Association (OSHA) have created mandates for preventative care
for sharps injuries. These mandates enforce the use of safer medical supplies, as
well as equipment, the use of sharps containers, and safer handling procedures.
AORN and OSHA have also provided extensive research on the effects and costs of
blood-borne pathogen exposure to both health care professionals and patients. Most
sharps injuries occur when sharps are passed hand to hand and they believe that
the responsibility for preventing percutaneous injury starts with frontline
personnel. This paper examines the rules and recommendations for sharps injury
prevention to reduce the risk of exposure to blood-borne pathogens.

Keywords: sharps,
injury, preventative

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

History
and Importance of Sharps Prevention

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Even
with all the preventative measures in place, sharps injuries are still far too
common. There have been many legislative acts passed in attempt to reduce
sharps damages. One of the most well know acts is the Needlestick Safety and
Prevention Act.  The purpose of this act
was to enforce employers to implement safer medical equipment with a focus on
reducing injuries related to sharps supplies. After the passing of this act, sharps
injuries decreased in non-surgical conditions, however they increased in
surgical settings. This paper aims to understand and implement the rules for
preventing sharps safety.

 According to (FORD), it is estimated that “approximately
500,000 health care workers experience percutaneous injuries per year” (FORD).
Percutaneous injuries put health care professionals and patients at risk of
being exposed to blood-borne pathogens such as HIV, Hepatitis B, and Hepatitis
C. Not only is the exposure to harmful blood-borne pathogens emotionally taxing,
but it can also turn into quite the economic burden as well. Health care
professionals exposed may have to miss work due to effects of the illness,
while the employer is held responsible for covering the expenses of any lab
tests or treatment that may be required for the affected worker.  It has been estimated that the average cost an
employer may have to pay per sharps injury related case can range from $100
$4,838. Because of potentially life changing exposure to blood borne pathogens
and the cost of treatment for the employer, it is crucial for health care
workers to follow the AORN’s “Recommended practices for sharps safety”.   

The
Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) has mandated that all
health care facilities have a blood borne pathogens exposure plan in place. This
mandate must include a plan to include “an exposure determination for the
employees who have the potential to be exposed to blood and body fluids; a plan
to reduce sharps injuries, including prioritized risk-reduction strategies; and
a process to monitor sharps injury data” (FORD). While ruling out the use of sharps
is unreasonable, there are many other valuable safety recommendations such as the
use of neutral zones, blunt tip needles, and safety scalpels.  

Conclusion

Each
day health care professionals are exposed to blood-borne pathogens. It is a
danger not only to the employees, but the patients as well. Exposure to blood-borne
pathogens can be both emotionally and financially draining. It can result in
missed work days and endless treatment costs left to be covered by employers. The
guidelines and mandates for sharps safety recommend safer equipment and
handling for all medical facilities. All health care professionals should be
aware of the methods to reduce the risk of sharps injury and exposure. With
these guidelines in place, the rate of percutaneous injuries and exposure
should steadily decline.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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