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Safe in Common Offers Experienced Advice for U.K.'s Review of Needlestick Safety Regulations
Date:9/6/2012

NEW YORK, Sept. 6, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Safe in Common (SIC) today encouraged the United Kingdom Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to build on the lessons learned in the United States as it reviews the development of national laws designed to protect healthcare personnel from needlestick injuries.

Safe in Common is a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting 5.6 million U.S. healthcare workers at risk of needlestick injury.  The Chairperson of Safe in Common, Dr. Mary Foley, has been active in the American Nurses Association since 1994 and was President from 2000-2002.  She played a key role in the adoption of several state initiatives to reduce injuries to healthcare workers and worked at the national level to secure passage of the Federal Needlestick Safety and Prevention Act in 2000.

Dr. Foley welcomed the start of a six month review by HSE, which comes in response to an E.U. directive adopted in 2010 that requires all European member states to implement national laws for needlestick prevention by May 2013. These laws will seek to mandate the use of safety-engineered devices and other procedures to protect those at risk of infection with blood-borne pathogens such as HIV from needlestick and sharp object injuries. The E.U. Commission for Employment has estimated that needlestick injuries are one of the most serious health and safety threats in European workplaces, and the cause of approximately one million injuries each year.

Dr. Foley said: "It is promising that E.U. countries including the U.K. are seeking feedback from industry leaders regarding the development of the most effective national legislation to protect healthcare workers at risk of harm. We believe it's wise for them to pay close attention to what's transpired in the U.S. over the last decade since we began to mandate and enforce the use of safety products in healthcare facilities."

"The majority of U.S. acute-care facilities have now largely converted to the use of safety engineered medical devices.  This has helped to reduce overall rates of reported needlestick injuries by around one-third. Yet we must still address a number of outstanding challenges regarding compliance, enforcement and selection of the safest, simplest medical products. As a result, we are now playing catch-up. I think this is a great opportunity for the U.K. and European countries to learn from our mistakes and to get it right the first time."

As the U.K. continues to review the Directive, SIC offered advice on how to set needlestick regulations:

  • Require all healthcare facilities to select the safest, simplest devices for every procedure regardless of cost. Devices with automatic (passive) and fully integrated safety features have in particular been found to minimize the risk of occupational exposures. Where such devices are available and compliant with the procedures of the facility, they must be required for use regardless of upfront cost.
  • All healthcare facilities should be inspected at least every two years by occupational healthcare safety authorities to ensure they are fully compliant with needlestick prevention laws, with strict penalties in place to discourage non-compliance.
  • Device manufacturers should be required to give full training within each facility where their safety products are being adopted, and on regular periods afterwards, to ensure healthcare personnel are using them correctly.  The healthcare facility should also train expert users who can assist in ongoing educational efforts.
  • After the introduction of new devices, it is recommended that close attention be made to the trends in injuries.  Some devices may take a short period of use before becoming familiar to staff.  Other devices, although promoted as safety devices, may introduce new types of injuries.  Careful evaluation of those trends is important especially in the first few months of adoption.
  • All occupational exposures, including needlestick injuries and other sharp object injuries need to be reported in a logbook that captures key information including user occupation, type of device involved, whether a safety mechanism was available and correctly engaged and at what stage of a procedure the accident occurred. This data should be collated by government occupational health and safety authorities and published on an annual basis.  Frontline staff must have immediate access to that data.
  • Each hospital must be required to take into account the level of needlestick safety features provided in drugs and vaccines supplied by pharmaceutical companies in a prefilled syringe format. Facilities should demand those products be supplied with safety devices.
  • The E.U. should develop and aggressively promote a national database on available safety engineered medical devices.

Dr. Foley also encouraged the U.K. and other European agencies to consider the expansion of legislation and regulations to protect those at risk of needlestick injuries outside of healthcare facilities.

On behalf of Safe in Common, Dr. Foley sent an open invitation to all E.U.-based healthcare leaders to lean on Safe in Common as a resource, participate in SIC's on-going dialogue regarding eradicating needlestick injuries, and sign the Needlestick Safety Pledge.

For more information about Safe in Common or to learn about partnership opportunities and the Organization's ongoing work to promote utilizing safer engineering controls that protect healthcare workers from unnecessary needlestick and sharps related injuries, please visit http://www.safeincommon.org.

About Safe in Common
Safe in Common is a non-profit organization established to enhance and save the lives of U.S. healthcare personnel at risk of harm from needlesticks and sharps injuries.  It is led by Chairperson Mary Foley, PhD, RN, former President of the American Nurses Association and other industry leaders. To learn more about the Needlestick Safety Pledge and its goal of promoting and strengthening the Federal Needlestick Safety and Prevention Act, go to www.facebook.com/safeincommon and follow Safe in Common on Twitter at www.twitter.com/safeincommon.

Media Contacts:
Joe McGurk
KCSA Strategic Communications
jmcgurk@kcsa.com
212-896-1231


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SOURCE Safe in Common
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